HC Deb 24 February 1972 vol 831 cc1480-1
25. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of crimes where alcohol is used as an excuse by the criminal; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Carlisle

This information is not collected by the Home Office.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that I intend to give information to the Home Office as a result of research carried out by Edinburgh University showing that in half the cases concerned the defence advanced as a reason for crimes, such as murder, has instanced alcohol as playing a significant part? In view of this research, is not the Minister prepared to put forward a proposal that centres should be set up in the community so that such people would be able to receive expert advice, and would not this go a long way to solve some of the problems?

Mr. Carlisle

I entirely share the hon. Gentleman's view. I believe there is little doubt that drink clearly is a substantial factor in many offences, particularly those involving violent crime. We do not collect statistics of the number of cases in which this is put forward as an excuse. On the second part of the question, we are hoping to open further hostels for alcoholics.

Mr. William Hannan

In view of the admitted relationship between high consumption of alcohol and crimes of violence, does not the Minister think it is high time that research into this matter should be undertaken and that a committee of inquiry should be set up to make recommendations on this subject?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not know whether we would gain anything by having an inquiry into this matter. It is generally accepted that alcohol undoubtedly has an effect on the crime rate.