HC Deb 19 January 1972 vol 829 cc437-8
7. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications what was the number of telephone kiosks damaged by vandalism in 1971; and how this compares with the figure for 1970.

Mr. Chataway

The Post Office tells me there were 150,027 incidents of vandalism to telephone kiosks in the 12 months ended 30th September, 1971, compared with 171,044 in the previous 12 months.

Mr. Dalyell

Those are appalling figures. Could not a forbidding notice be posted in each kiosk threatening dire fines to anybody who commits vandalism?

Mr. Chataway

I am sure the Post Office will look carefully at that suggestion, but there are already very substantial penalties which anybody involved in vandalism can incur.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Has there been any significant change in the number of public telephone kiosks comparing 1970 with 1971, and would my right hon. Friend be prepared to discuss with the Home Secretary the possibility of revising the penalties for acts of vandalism in kiosks?

Mr. Chataway

I will send my hon. Friend the figures for which he asks. He will know that the Criminal Damage Act, which became law on 14th October, provides penalties of 10 years' imprisonment for most offences of criminal damage and even higher penalties for certain grave offences.

Mr. Dempsey

As this problem is becoming more serious and affects almost all constituencies, is it not about time that the Minister had top-level discussions with the police and the judiciary to see what steps they can take to assist the right hon. Gentleman to combat this wicked destruction of public property?

Mr. Chataway

I assure the hon. Gentleman that nobody is complacent about the present figures even though there was an improvement in the past year. Some 1.1 per cent. of all public telephone kiosks are reckoned to be out of order at any one time. This may seem a small percentage, but it is far too high.