HC Deb 18 March 1982 vol 20 cc475-6
18. Mr. Durant

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that the police have adequate powers to deal with crimes of violence.

Mr. Whitelaw

I still have under active consideration the report of the Royal Commission on criminal procedure, which recommends a number of changes in the powers of the police to deal with all forms of crime.

Mr. Durant

I accept that my right hon. Friend has done much to improve the morale and the numbers of the police. Will he encourage chief constables not to hesitate to use large numbers of police when this becomes necessary?

Mr. Whitelaw

That is an operational matter for chief constables. They know very well that they have my fullest support in operations that they believe to be right to deal effectively with crime.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does not the Home Secretary believe, in relation to crimes of violence, that it is necessary to get the statistics right? Does he think it is fair that the Metropolitan Police should insist on using ethnic statistics for muggings but should refuse point blank to collect that information on anything else, particularly when people whom they stop and search in the streets are later acquitted or the charges are not proceeded with?

Mr. Whitelaw

There were a great many rumours and a great many allegations before the statistics were published. I believe that the truth is far better than rumour or allegation. It was right for the Metropolitan Police to publish the truth in their statistics. The truth helps to make leaders of any community realise that they should help and assist the police in isolating the small minority of criminals in their midst who cause all the trouble.

Mr. John Page

In view of the disgraceful scenes of hooliganism and violence at Wembley last weekend, and also at other football matches, will the Home Secretary consider discussing with police authorities the searching of crowds going to the grounds, on the lines of the successful example instituted in Scotland last year?

Mr. Whitelaw

The police obviously have a duty to deal with these problems as best they can. These incidents are serious. I am very worried about football hooliganism, as is my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport. I shall certainly have discussions to see whether we can improve our procedures.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall call the Opposition Front Bench spokesman to conclude and allow one extra minute for Prime Minister's questions.

Mr. Hattersley

I revert to the statistics on which the Home Secretary was questioned. Was the right hon. Gentleman, as the police authority for London, consulted before the statistics were published? Or does he regard this as an operational matter?

Mr. Whitelaw

I knew that the statistics were to be published. I agreed that they should be published, for the reason that I have given.