HC Deb 05 November 1987 vol 121 c1061
15. Mr. John Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the trend of crime in London during 1987.

Mr. Hurd

I welcome the fall in recorded crime in the Metropolitan police district of London during the first nine months of this year, when 5 per cent. fewer notifiable offences were recorded than in the first nine months of 1986.

Mr. Marshall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the 6 per cent. decline in the incidence of burglary and theft reflects the success of neighbourhood watch in London and the manpower policies of the Metropolitan police?

Mr. Hurd

I think that there is almost certain to be a connection. Yesterday I went to Southall police station and saw a map of the division. I suppose that almost one third of the inhabited area was covered by neighbourhood watch schemes and the police there were in no doubt that the decrease in burglaries in London was connected with those efforts.

Ms. Abbott

Is the Home Secretary aware that academic studies show that in fact neighbourhood watch schemes serve only to displace crime to other areas? Therefore, the drop in crime can have nothing to do with neighbourhood watch schemes.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Lady is wrong. More and more, we are getting evidence from the police and from crime prevention efforts that neighbourhood watch schemes, which vary in quality, have the effect of reducing burglaries in some places. In other cases they simply recreate a sense of neighbourhood which has been lost. I very much hope that the borough of Lambeth and all the other areas represented by Opposition Members will drop any theological opposition to neighbourhood watch schemes and join what should be an all-party effort to reduce crime.

Mr. Wheeler

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the increased success of crime prevention strategy is relieving the police the burden of investigating minor crimes so that they can shift their attention to more serious crimes, such as those involving drugs? Will my right hon. Friend comment on his proposals for the drugs confiscation team?

Mr. Hurd

I am glad that my hon. Friend spotted that in the Autumn Statement. The extra money available will be used to increase substantially the number of drug liaison officers abroad to create a task force that will track down the assets of drug traffickers. I hope that that increased effort overseas will support the efforts of the police in London.