HC Deb 21 January 1970 vol 794 cc490-2
10. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many crimes of violence were reported to the police in the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available; and what were the comparable figures for the same 12-month periods five, 10 and 15 years previously, respectively.

Mr. Ross

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to his Question on 17th December.—[Vol. 793, c. 1341–2.]

Mr. Taylor

Is the Secretary of State aware of the general concern at the increase in assaults on police, as shown by the latest published figures, and of the increased concern following the tragic shooting of two police officers in my constituency? Will he, therefore, give urgent attention to strengthening the law to protect the police force?

Mr. Ross

Yes. On the original Question, the hon. Member will, of course, know that there have been indications, not of a rise in crimes of violence but of a downturn, and that we welcome. Figures have been given. They are not strictly comparable statistically with what will eventually come out from the Scottish Office in our criminal statistics. These figures were given by the Chief Constable of Glasgow and showed, I think, a 10 per cent. reduction in serious assaults and a 13 per cent. reduction in robbery.

In respect of the question that the hon. Member relates to it—that of assaults on police—of course we are concerned about this. I had a meeting with the representatives of the Police Federation, when we went into this matter very fully. I should take this opportunity of recording for myself and the House our sorrow at the tragic event that the hon. Member has mentioned and expressing our sympathy to the families of the police officers who were killed.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

May I associate myself with what the Secretary of State has just said and also welcome the slight improvement that has just taken place but, none the less, ask whether he does not recognise that there is still, unfortunately, much too much in the way of crimes of violence as a whole, which have increased over the last three or four years?

Mr. Ross

It is true that this is not a purely Scottish trend. It has not just happened. There has been a gradual improvement in Scotland at a time when, unfortunately, in other places it is still rising.

Mr. Hannan

Is the rate of detection in these cases also increasing? Are the courts becoming more aware not of the need for new penalties but of the need for them to be seen to be making more use of existing penalties?

Mr. Ross

The rate of detection is much higher. There has been an increase in the efficiency and strength of our police forces. The courts are using their powers in respect of sentencing policy, and that is right.