HC Deb 12 July 1973 vol 859 cc1769-71
17. Mr. Norman Lamont

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the detection rates for crimes of violence in the London metropolitan area.

Mr. R. Carr

In each of the three years from 1970 to 1972 the Metropolitan Police have cleared up more than seven in 10 of known crimes of violence against the person. I regard that as a commendable performance, taking into account the policing problems of the London area.

Mr. Lamont

Has my right hon. Friend had any report from the Metropolitan Police about the deplorable attack on Professor Eynsenck at the LSE? Does he agree that the matter should have been investigated by the police? Will he comment on existing police practice in the light of the statement attributed in the Press to the police, that as the attack took place on private property and as no complaint has been made no investigation was called for?

Mr. Carr

It is a fact that unless they are invited into private property the police do not have the right to enter, except when they have reason to apprehend in advance that there will be a major disturbance to public order. In the case to which my hon. Friend refers they had no such intimation that such a thing might happen. Subsequently—I think that my memory is right—Professor Eynsenck was interviewed and he specifically requested that no further inquiries should be made by the police.

Mrs. Castle

When considering the problem of crimes of violence, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that although many battered wives are the victims of such crimes they are debarred under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme from any compensation for their injuries? Will he carefully study the case of Mrs. Joan Rosina Smith, of which I have sent him particulars, and urgently review the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme so that people like Mrs. Smith can receive some compensation for their appalling injuries?

Mr. Carr

I am reviewing the scheme at the moment. I shall take into account in the review the general point made by the right hon. Lady. I shall look most carefully at the case which she has written to me about.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I revert to the supplementary question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Norman Lamont). Is it not the case that many university authorities are now incapable of keeping the peace and obtaining free speech. That being so, should not consideration be given to the question whether a university should any longer be treated as a private place?

Mr. Carr

That would raise rather profound issues. I suspect that many people in the university world, or people interested in it, might take such a change very seriously. It is a very difficult matter.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I absolutely agree that the record of the Metropolitan Police is excellent in respect of crimes of violence and organised crime. However, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the area in which a shortage of manpower shows up most severely is that of what might be described broadly as routine non-violent crimes, such as thefts and actions against property? Last year the clear-up rate of the Metropolitan Police for such crimes was 30.3 per cent. as against 49.9 per cent. for the provincial forces. Does not that indicate how serious the position is for that kind of crime in the Metropolis?

Mr. Carr

It is serious in the Metropolis and much more prevalent there than elsewhere. The more prevalent such crime is, the more difficult it is to get a high rate of clear-up.