HC Deb 26 June 1986 vol 100 cc457-8
8. Mr. Maples

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions his Department has had with motor manufacturers about progress on a British standard for car locks as a method of deterring theft of, or from, cars.

9. Mr. Forth

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in devising a strategy for combating autocrime.

Mr. Giles Shaw

Representatives of motor manufacturers and agents attended the crime prevention seminar which my right hon. Friend chaired on Monday. Autocrime was one of the subjects examined and good progress is being made.

The first part of a British Standard on vehicle security, which is being prepared with the co-operation of the manufacturers, will be published in the autumn. It will define, for the first time, a performance-based specification for secure locking systems. We will continue to urge car owners to use the security equipment available to them. We are undertaking a wide range of publicity campaigns and the motor manufacturers will be improving the advice on car security which they give to car owners.

Mr. Maples

The introduction of such a standard will be widely welcomed as a real practical step in the fight against car theft. Will my hon. Friend try to see that any such standard that is imposed in this country is imposed throughout the EEC, so that British manufactuers are not placed at a disadvantage?

Mr. Shaw

Yes, indeed. I welcome my hon. Friend's suggestion. We intend to do that. It will be a lengthy process before it can be adopted as a European directive, but we shall certainly try.

Mr. Forth

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply on this most important matter. Is he satisfied with the incentives and the publicity to encourage car owners along these lines? More important, is he satisfied with the penalties that are available to magistrates to impose on those who are found guilty of autocrime?

Mr. Shaer

My hon. Friend raises a fair point on penalties. He is right in his view that so often these penalties are not sufficient to deal with the problem. I ressure my hon. Friend on his first point. Not only will we spend money on television publicity to ensure that the autocrime problem is drawn to the attention of the public, but the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea has agreed to circulate leaflets to every person who receives a licence from the centre.

Mr. Parry

Does the Minister agree that greater security car locks will help to reduce the number of young joyriders who take cars? In my constituency a number of young people have been killed when driving these vehicles and a number of innocent pedestrians have also been killed. The Ministr will be aware that those who are killed in the incidents are not covered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

Mr. Shaw

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. He lays stress on the fact that autocrime, which accounted for 846,000 criminal incidents last year, is largely an opportunist event. The police estimate that between 70 and 90 per cent. of all autocrime, whether pinching a vehicle or pinching from it, is entirely opportunist and that it can so easily be prevented by properly secured vehicles.

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