HC Deb 04 July 1985 vol 82 cc511-2
5. Mrs. Clwyd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any further proposals to reduce the incidence of crime.

Mr. Brittan

The various preventive and other measures which we are taking under my crime strategy hold out the best prospect of reducing crime. We shall continue to pursue them vigorously. In particular, I am encouraged by the 11 per cent. fall in domestic burglaries in January to March this year, compared with the same period last year, in the police areas covered by the "Magpies" crime prevention campaign. This compares with a 0.7 per cent. increase elsewhere.

Mrs. Clywd

How many men compared with women received prison sentences in the last year for which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has figures available? Can he explain why far heavier doses of behaviour-controlling drugs are given to women in Holloway than to men in any male prison.

Mr. Brittan

I do not have the figures to hand, but I shall write to the hon. Lady and give them to her.

Mr. Marlow

What would be the likely effect on the level of crime if the Miners' Amnesty (General Pardon) Bill in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) were to be passed, given that the burden of that Bill is that people will be entitled to commit murder provided it is in pursuit of objectives that are central to those of the national executive of the Labour party?

Mr. Brittan

The passage of that Bill would totally undermine confidence in the rule of law. Indeed, its introduction casts severe doubt on the commitment to the rule of law of those who favour it.

Mr. Janner

In his efforts to reduce crime, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman place importance on the presence on the roads of motorised vehicles, panda cars and motor cycles? If so, is it true, as I have heard, that instructions have this week gone out from the Metropolitan police to highway patrols and other motorised units to reduce the amount of mileage covered by each vehicle, other than in emergencies, by an enormous amount—in some cases as high as 20 per cent.? If that order has gone out, will the Home Secretary take steps to see that it is revoked?

Mr. Brittan

Many people regard the move to have policemen on foot as opposed to being in panda cars as one to be encouraged. Of course cars have an important role, but I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman should not be too anxious about reducing the number of cars in the Metropolitan police area when he takes into account the fact that 50 million miles of car driving by the police took place last year.

Mr. Spencer

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that pilot schemes involving the interviewing of suspects being tape-recorded, such as we have in Leicester, have been very successful? Early police misgiving has been overcome. Does he also agree that this contributes to a reduction in the incidence of crime? Can he give the House an indication of when the pilot schemes will be extended?

Mr. Brittan

My hon. and learned Friend is entirely right. I have not seen the Leicester scheme, but I have seen and spoken to those involved in a similar scheme in another part of the country. The schemes are extremely encouraging. I think that they will avoid damaging and untrue accusations being made against the police, save police and court time, and lead to more pleas of guilty. The knowledge that the criminal justice system will be improved in that way will be beneficial. I cannot give dates as to when the scheme will be extended, but of course my hon. and learned Friend will be aware of the commitment to do so in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Mr. Kaufman

Does the Home Secretary expect crime rates to fall to the level at which they were when the Labour Government left office?

Mr. Brittan

As the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, the average annual increase in total recorded offences went up in the 10 years to 1984 by about 6 per cent. As there has been a steady increase in crime since the early years of this century, he will realise that the question is rhetorical.

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