§ 14. Mr. Latham
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many representations he has received from the general public in recent weeks regarding crimes of violence and muggings; and what general reply he has given.
§ Mr. Latham
Is my right hon. Friend aware that nothing could be more harmful to social harmony than the feeling among the frail and elderly that they are not safe on the streets or even in their homes? Will he ensure that the full resources of the state, both financially and in terms of information back-up, are given to the police to help them in their struggle against violence?
§ Mr. Hurd
Yes, Sir. I agree with my hon. Friend. One reason why we are introducing the new offence of disorderly conduct is precisely to protect the kind of people my hon. Friend is talking about against harassment and distress. It is worth recording that, although violent crime has continued to rise for many years now, that rise has somewhat slowed down, and 75 per cent. of all offences of violence against the person are cleared up.
§ Mr. Alton
When the Home Secretary is looking at the rise in violent crime, will he say whether any research has been done by his Department into the link between rising numbers of muggings and crimes of violence and the drugs trade? Will he say whether very many of the young people involved in these kinds of crimes are heroin addicts themselves?
§ Mr. Dubs
Is the Home Secretary not appalled that under the Conservative Government crimes of violence have increased by 40 per cent.? This is what is worrying people throughout the country. Is it not true, as he said quite effectively in a press statement last week, that, however one looks at the facts and figures, the reality is bleak?
§ Mr. Hurd
I agree with that. What I disagree with is the implication in the hon. Gentleman's question that this started in 1979. It has been going on for 30 years now. The peak age for offending by males is 15, and by females it is 14. That brings out the whole question of the responsibility of parents and of teachers as well as of the courts.