HC Deb 04 February 1965 vol 705 cc1264-5
15. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there has been any increase in the weekly averages of the numbers of murders since the Bill on the abolition of capital punishment was given a Second Reading; how many murders were committed in December, 1964 and January, 1965; and what were the comparable figures for December, 1963 and January, 1964.

Sir F. Soskice

The weekly average number of cases initially recorded as murders known to the police in England and Wales from 22nd December, 1964, to 31st January, 1965, was 4.1, and the corresponding weekly average for the year ended 21st December, 1964, was 4.7. The total figures for the months of December, 1964, and January, 1965, were 23 and 11, and for December, 1963, and January, 1964, they were 18 and 19. All these figures include cases which may be found not to be murder.

Mr. Taylor

In view of the widespread public anxiety about what may be the results of passing the Bill, would the Home Secretary agree to publish periodic figures showing the murder rate, as the public has no other way of finding out the facts? If over a period there appears to be an increase in murder, particularly capital murder, will he consider altering the provisions of the Bill?

Sir F. Soskice

As the hon. Gentleman knows, figures are published at much longer intervals. I will certainly do what I can to see that the public is kept fully informed of the progress of the increase or decrease of crime, but figures for short periods looked at by themselves are apt to be misleading, because they naturally fluctuate from time to time, although over longer periods they become instructive and, of course, are published.

Sir E. Boyle

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that while we agree that a short-term look at the figures can easily be misleading and unhelpful, it would be very useful if the admirable Home Office publicaton "Murder" could be regularly brought up to date? I think that the whole House was grateful for the figures which we had before Christmas and periodic revisions would be helpful.

Sir F. Soskice

I certainly agree.