HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc795-6
46. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Lord Advocate when he last met the Council on Crime.

The Lord Advocate

I attended the last meting of the Scottish Council on Crime, which was on Friday 7th June 1974.

Mr. MacArthur

When the right hon. and learned Gentleman next meets the council, will he seek its views on the present powers of children's panels? Are the powers adequate to deal effectively with juvenile vandalism?

The Lord Advocate

I think that I have already told the House that that matter is under consideration by the Scottish Council on Crime.

Vandalism is a wider problem. I should have thought that, on the whole, it affected youths perhaps even more than it affected children who appear before children's panels. But vandalism is a very difficult question and if the hon. Gentleman has any suggestions about how it should be dealt with, my right hon. Friend and I will be very glad to receive them.

Mr. Fairgrieve

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that the people of Scotland are utterly sick and fed up with the vandalism that is now taking place, and that hard-hitting sentences are required?

The Lord Advocate

I note what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I am bound to say that experience suggests that sheer severity of penalty is not the most effective way of dealing with this problem.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Although he has expressed a contrary opinion, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that this is a very urgent and serious problem in many parts of Scotland? Surely there is a case for his taking the initiative of bringing together the top legal minds and the Council on Crime, as well as others who may be able to help, to see whether, together, they can find an answer to what is becoming an alarming problem in some parts of Scotland.

The Lord Advocate

I accept that that is a useful suggestion. Indeed, steps have already been taken in that direction, and the Scottish Council on Crime deserves considerable credit for it. In certain cases in which vandalism is serious, it is possible—without accepting the hon. Member's suggestion—that charges in connection with such crimes could be referred to the sheriff courts rather than be dealt with by lower courts.

Forward to