§ 1 Mr. Andrew MacKay
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further initiatives he proposes to combat crime.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Leon Brittan)
The criminal justice working paper, which I published last week—copies of which are in the Vote Office—sets out my continuing strategy to combat crime and describes a range of current initiatives. Its main themes are the importance of measures to secure public confidence; the search for greater efficiency and effectiveness; and the retention of a proper balance between the rights of the citizen and the needs of the community as a whole.
§ Mr. MacKay
What further measures are the police taking to counter brutal and illegal intimidation in the coalfields?
§ Mr. Brittan
There has been a lot of nasty intimidation and the police are determined to do everything they can to deal with it. Miners are now being encouraged to report all such occurrences to the police, with an assurance by the 490 police that they will be investigated and, wherever possible, charges brought. In many areas, teams of CID officers are being formed to investigate such allegations and to ensure that they are taken seriously. In addition, a uniform presence has been placed in villages which are identified as having high levels of intimidation. Officers are patrolling on foot throughout the day, with increased levels of activity during high risk periods.
§ Mr. Skinner
Is the Home Secretary aware that it is little wonder that the police are unable to control drug pedlars and that three small kids could be abducted, with the police unable to find out where they have gone, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government are more concerned to draft 12,000 policemen into the midlands coalfields to bully miners who are fighting for the right to work? As the Home Secretary is prepared to bring new riot charges against miners—imposing a kind of feudal law on them—and is prepared to pay the police £500 a week to tackle—
§ Mr. Brittan
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to be taken remotely seriously with questions that are not out of order, I should like to hear him condemn those involved in the mining dispute who have been responsible for threatening the families of innocent people, those who damage property and daub paint, and those involved in violent activity on a massive scale. When he does that, the House might be able to take him seriously.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. We have a number of questions today on this dispute, and I ask the House to take them with calmness and seriousness.
§ Mr. Brittan
I pay tribute to the many policemen from all over the country who on behalf of the community as a whole, are undertaking, a difficult and sometimes dangerous task, which has been made necessary only by the attempt by large numbers of people to prevent their fellow citizens from going about their lawful business.
§ Mr. Kaufman
What is achieved in the task of effectively combating crime by the forcible palm and finger printing of Mrs. Scargill, by the strip searching of women protesting against nuclear weapons and by two policemen entering a women's lavatory, closing it off, removing a grille from a men's lavatory, spying through 491 it and then climbing over the lavatory cubicle to seize two men? How are our record levels of burglary and crime combated by such things? When will the right hon. and learned Gentleman deal with crime instead of invading civil liberties?
§ Mr. Brittan
I am not in a position to comment on the first and third incidents which the right hon. Gentleman selectively mentioned. If he wishes to make a complaint, he is welcome to do so. As to the alleged strip search of female protesters at RAF Alconbury, I have asked the chief constable of Cambridgeshire for a report about the alleged incident at the police station, but I have not yet received it.