HC Deb 20 November 1973 vol 864 cc1125-7
Q4. Mr. Fowler

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Home Secretary on 2nd November at Exeter on crime represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Fowler

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in that speech the Home Secretary announced the first significant reduction in crime in this country for 20 years? Is not that a considerable achievement indeed which will be widely welcomed by the public, and does it not fully justify the Government in taking off the restriction on police recruitment which was imposed by the previous Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

A substantial reduction in the crime figures is widely welcomed throughout the country. It justifies lifting the figure on recruiting that was imposed by the previous administration, and police strength recently passed the 100,000 mark for the first time.

Mr. Kaufman

As crime among young people in the inner cities is one of the most disturbing aspects of crime, and as it is generally recognised that the best way of reducing the causes of crime among young people in inner cities is to provide constructive facilities for them, will the Prime Minister ask his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to remove his veto on the construction of a youth centre in my constituency?

The Prime Minister

I shall ask my right hon. Friend about it, but if the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question to my right hon. Friend he will discuss it in detail.

Mr. Gardner

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the outstanding contributions which the Government have made towards dealing with crime is the strengthening of the probation service? Everyone welcomes that. Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, however, that this is an indispensable service in any fight against crime and will he ensure that there is a recognition of the need further to increase recruitment and to improve conditions in the service?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend, and my right hon. Friend is well aware of the point. It is of the greatest importance.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that, while there has been a welcome reduction in non-violent crimes, the figure for violent crimes is still rising rapidly? There is a serious shortage of nearly one in four policemen in London alone, and the probation service feels very bitter about the continuation of selection and grading in its salaries.

The Prime Minister

On the question of crimes with violence, I am told that robbery, including mugging, has decreased by 11.7 per cent., but there are particular forms of violent crime in which, I agree, there has been an increase. What is to be welcomed is that overall there has been a decline.

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