HC Deb 20 March 1986 vol 94 cc407-8
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. Hurd

So far this year I have received 47 expressing concern about crimes of violence and mugging.

The replies generally set out the powers granted by Parliament to the courts for dealing with violent crime and explain the Government's crime strategy as it relates to these offences.

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. Hurd

It is difficult to get statistics about this. The hon. Member is quite right about its importance. Undoubtedly there is growing anecdotal evidence that more and more of the kinds of crimes with which the question deals are prompted by a desire to finance drug-taking.

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.

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