HC Deb 23 June 1988 vol 135 cc1262-4
8. Mr. Sumberg

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further plans he has to involve the private sector in collaborative schemes of crime prevention following his recent initiative.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. John Patten)

Crime Concern, the new national organisation for crime prevention, was launched on 23 May. One of its tasks will be to provide a national focus for private sector support for crime prevention. We shall also be expecting to see continued private sector support for individual local crime prevention projects, including some that will be established under the safer cities programme, and crime prevention panels have an important role too.

Mr. Sumberg

I welcome my hon. Friend"s initiative in this important matter. Will he in turn send a message of support to the Bury police, who have recently established in my constituency the Bury crime prevention panel, which will involve the community and the private sector in police activities? Is that not the sort of action that will translate his good intentions into good deeds?

Mr. Patten

The Bury police are showing a lead, and I shall write to them this afternoon.

Mr. John Greenway

Is my hon. Friend aware of the insurance schemes with low premiums for members of good neighbour and neighbourhood watch schemes, which have recently been introduced? Does he agree that such schemes provide a very good spur to membership of neighbourhood watch, and to crime prevention in general?

Mr. Patten

I welcome the actions of insurance companies that are giving a discount to householders and flat dwellers who live in the areas covered by neighbourhood watches of which they are members. I only wish that more insurance companies, would do the same.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the Minister ensure that those private sector schemes do not follow the arrangements that were set up for the collection of parked vehicles in Brighton? A tin-pot little company from the back end of Brighton was given a substantial contract and will now make a quarter of a million pounds a year collecting vehicles. That could have been done by the local police authority, and the ratepayer would have been the beneficiary. Why does the Minister not ensure that authorities keep such services in the public sector, so that the money can go to the real people, not just to a small group of people?

Mr. Patten

The private sector is more cost-efficient and cost-effective. That is why we welcome the involvement of more and more private sector companies in sponsoring crime prevention schemes.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

While the Minister is considering the role of the private sector in crime prevention, will he be having new discussions with the brewers? As the Home Secretary and the Ministers have fulfilled their side of the bargain and delivered the Licensing Bill to the brewers, will he now, although late in the day, be having discussions with the brewers about alcohol-related problems and, in particular, about their pricing policy in public houses, which artificially inflates the cost of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks? Surely the events of recent weeks prove that the Government were wrong to push ahead with the Licensing Bill before tackling any of the problems of alcohol abuse.

Mr. Patten

I find it amazing that the hon. Lady seems to have overlooked the stiffening by the Licensing Bill of the provisions for the sale of alcohol. I thought that she welcomed that in the Standing Committee on the Bill. I also thought that the hon. Lady would want to join us in encouraging magistrates and licensing benches throughout the country to use the powers they already have to ensure that licenses are given only where they are appropriate.

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