HC Deb 02 April 1987 vol 113 c1210
12. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what special steps are being taken to curb the high incidence of crime committed by 15 to 16-year-olds.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

We have encouraged many local initiatives, and a working group of the Home Office standing conference on crime prevention has been set up to deal specifically with reducing juvenile crime.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

Has my hon. Friend seen the recent remarks of the chief constable of Thames Valley, who said that the greater involvement of the police through the crime prevention element of the schools programme, the fewer the number of children who became involved in crime? If that is so, what pressure can he bring to bear on those local education authorities which refuse to allow the police to lecture in their schools?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend has made a very important point. It is vital that the police have the opportunity to go into schools and spread the message about crime prevention. Far too many Labour authorities are preventing the police from carrying out that essential task.

Mr. Ashton

Does the Minister think that abolishing the dole for teenagers who refuse to go on youth training schemes will increase, or reduce, crime? Is he aware that it now costs £327 a week to keep a teenager in prison, but only £18.40 a week when he is on the dole?

Mr. Hogg

I would be rather more impressed by that question if it were not true that the Labour-dominated borough of Haringey had issued about 25,000 passes, called "bust passes", telling schoolchildren not to cooperate with the police if they are stopped.

Mr. Key

Does my hon. Friend agree that the public get no satisfaction from seeing hon. Members hurling about insults over crime statistics? If we wish to get to the bottom of this, we must consider the problem of television at a time when children of school age watch television for more hours than they are in school. Is it not true that the best way that we can proceed with this matter is by supporting the private Member's Bill tomorrow?

Mr. Hogg

I agree with the conclusion and also echo what my hon. Friend said, that we—especially those in the Labour party—tend to underestimate the duties of schools and parents in this area.