HC Deb 22 April 1982 vol 22 cc407-8
6. Mr. John Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has had any recent discussions with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on the level of crime in outer London; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am in regular contact with the Commissioner on a wide range of topics, including the level of crime in particular parts of London.

Mr. Hunt

Does my right hon. Friend acknowledge that there is a significant difference in the pattern of crime between inner and outer London? Does he agree that the burglary of one's home can be an even more traumatic and sickening experience than being mugged in the street? In view of the recent horrific increase in the number of burglaries and robberies in Bromley and elsewhere, will he encourage the Commissioner to organise more frequent panda car patrols in the most vulnerable areas and to mount more "beat the burglar" campaigns, which have already had some limited success?

Mr. Whitelaw

I accept that there are differences in crime in different parts of the metropolis. I should not like to make any comparison between the effect on someone who is involved in a street crime and the effect on someone who is burgled. Both offences are equally odious.

My hon. Friend asked me to encourage the Commissioner to organise more frequent panda car patrols. The feeling is that it is important to have more officers back on their feet. We cannot have it all ways all the time.

My hon. Friend's crime prevention proposals are most important. I hope that a great deal of attention will be paid to them. The more difficult it is for burglars to commit crime, the more they are likely to be deterred.

Mr. Christopher Price

According to the newspapers this morning, the Commissioner has announced that he will record racial incidents wherever they are alleged. Will he also record allegations of racism by individuals against policemen in stop-and-search operations?

Mr. Whitelaw

I discuss these matters and what the Commissioner says about them with the Commissioner.

Mr. Greenway

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if the police are to have the success that is necessary for proper public protection, the damaging attacks that they are having to suffer will so affect their morale that it will be difficult for them to maintain the necessary level of defence of the public?

Will he note that these attacks come from Left-wing elements and that the committee at County Hall, set up without any remit from the GLC, will not help public protection?

Mr. Whitelaw

I have made clear on a number of occasions my distaste for some of the remarks made by Mr. Livingstone and Mr. Boatang. They undermine the need, which everyone in the House accepts, for the police to be successful against crime and to prevent trouble in our streets. That is their job. They need the full support of everyone, not only in the House, but in the GLC.

Mr. Snape

Does the Home Secretary agree with the criticism of the Metropolitan Police expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams)—the notorious Left-winger—following the problems in Notting Hill on Tuesday evening?

Mr. Whitelaw

As a matter of fact, I do not. I believe that the operation conducted by the police in Notting Hill was an example of what is needed. If the House wants not to be properly controlled, it is necessary for firm and clear police action to be taken at the first opportunity. That was done in Notting Hill, and it was most successful.