HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 c1058
42. Mr. Ancram

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many charges of vandalism have been brought by the Crown Office over the past 12 months.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The statistics on court proceedings for the past 12 months have not yet been processed, However, I can inform my hon. Friend that in 1981 41,959 contraventions of section 78 of the 1980 Act were made known to the police. Of those, 8,610 were cleared up in that one or more persons were apprehended, warned, cited or traced for the offence.

Mr. Ancram

Is my hon. and learned Friend satisfied that the charge of vandalism is now acting, as intended, as a deterrent?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

There was some initial apprenhension that what was being introduced was little more than cosmetic, but it is interesting to note that groups such as the Scottish Legal Action Group have now recognised the importance of demonstrating to offenders exactly what they have done. It is well worth having the crime of vandalism on the statute book.

Mr. Dewar

The Solicitor-General is laughing at his own reply. Does he really maintain that position? Surely the change is cosmetic. All the offences would have been recorded as breaches of the peace and would have been prosecuted in exactly the same way. It is brass-necked to suggest that the provision represents some contribution to better government and law enforcement in Scotland.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

It is no laughing matter that there should be 47,000 incidences of vandalism in Scotland. People should be charged with that offence so that they, the courts and the public know exactly what they have been engaging in. In addition, it makes it easier for the courts to take advantage of compensation orders and allows offenders to contribute properly towards rectifying the damage that they have caused.

Mr. Henderson

Is there any way in which my hon. and learned Friend can point out to the courts that although a particular offence, such as vandalism, may not in itself be of major, world-shattering importance it can have a serious impact on a local community if it is carried out on a large scale?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I recognise the great damage that can be done to individual communities and the concern that it can cause to people. That is why it is important not only to have the offence of vandalism, but to couple it with compensation orders. Contrary to what the Opposition may say, it makes a valuable contribution to law and order in Scotland.