HC Deb 02 December 1971 vol 827 cc638-9
21. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he now has to reduce vandalism.

Mr. Carlisle

A strong and effective police force is the best deterrent to vandalism. The measures my right hon. Friend is taking to strengthen the police are already showing results. The Criminal Damage Act, which became law on 14th October, provides a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for most offences of criminal damage, and a maximum of life imprisonment for certain grave offences.

Mr. Dormand

I wish the Minister well in those proposals. Is he aware that there is a greater public concern about vandalism than ever and that the problem needs to be looked at from two points of view? First, there is the short-term aspect. There need to be greater penalties of the kind described by the Minister. Second, from a long-term point of view there needs to be a study in depth of the causes of vandalism, some of which do not seem to fit the theories that many of us hold.

Mr. Carlisle

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. There is concern. It is often difficult to arrest individual offenders for this type of offence. As to a study in depth of the causes of vandalism, if we all knew more about the causes of crime generally we might be able to reduce the crime figures.

Mr. John Page

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the public feel that one of the most annoying results of vandalism is the damage to telephone boxes? Will he have discussions with our right hon. Friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications to see whether a system of lights or bells can be used so that such vandalism is more likely to be stopped sooner and the culprits arrested?

Mr. Carlisle

All types of vandalism are disquieting, but I will certainly take up with my right hon. Friend the suggestion my hon. Friend has made.

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