HC Deb 06 December 1973 vol 865 cc1427-8
3. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research is being undertaken by his Department into the nature and extent of vandalism and into the most effective ways of combating it.

Mr. Carlisle

The Home Office Research Unit is undertaking a number of related studies of the extent of vandalism and the factors associated with it. It is hoped that the results of the research will suggest possible ways of reducing this kind of delinquent activity.

Mr. Knox

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that research is needed not only into the attitudes and motivations of vandals but into the impact on the community at large, since this tends to be a crime affecting the whole community?

Mr. Carlisle

I entirely agree. The studies to which I have referred will include work on the extent to which vandalism impinges on the lives of ordinary people. We regard it as important that we should not concentrate entirely on offenders, to the exclusion of any concern for the victim.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Since this involves the question of police manpower, how can the Metropolitan Police, for example, adequately cope with the problem when wastage exceeds recruitment and there are well over 5,000 vacancies? Is there anything more that the Minister can say about the claim by the London police for differential pay?

Mr. Carlisle

There is a Question later on the Order Paper dealing with the Metropolitan Police. I agree that the number of policemen is an important consideration in keeping down vandalism. I remind the hon. Member that for the first lime we now have over 100,000 policemen, which is 8,000 more than we had three years ago.

Mr. Tinn

In those studies will the Minister consider one of the most frequently experienced although perhaps less serious manifestations of vandalism—the misuse of aerosol sprays in public places? Will he see what can be done about this, rather than relying on the slightly complacent reply that the present deterrents are sufficient, given the experience that the present deterrents against this kind of abuse are manifestly insufficient and ineffective?

Mr. Carlisle

If the hon. Gentleman is asking whether I shall introduce legislation to ban the sale of aerosol sprays, the answer is "No". That would not be justified. I am aware that they are used from time to time by youths committing offences of vandalism.