HC Deb 13 July 1989 vol 156 cc1117-8
4. Mr. Hind

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the work of the ministerial group on crime prevention.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

The ministerial group on crime prevention manages our successful crime prevention strategy. Its recently published progress report records how it does this: the prototype crime-free car, the reduction by over a third in the number of coin meter break-ins and the programme of Government-funded security measures for passengers on the London Underground are just three examples of initiatives which it supervises.

Mr. Hind

My right hon. Friend's ministerial group is doing excellent work, and many Conservative Members have noticed the drop of 6 per cent. in recorded crime in the past 12 months. Will my right hon. Friend remember, however, that crime prevention can be achieved in a number of ways?

There is widespread concern in the north-west following the trial of David Evans at Chester Crown court and his conviction for the murder of a 15-year-old girl. Evans had been released from prison after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence for rape: he received full remission. My right hon. Friend will be aware of Lord Carlisle's excellent report on the review of the parole system. Will he look carefully at the recommendations for supervision of prisoners released on remission after being sentenced for serious offences, in an attempt to prevent the repetition of cases such as that of David Evans?

Mr. Hurd

Yes. Personally, I have considerable sympathy with that recommendation by the Carlisle committee. We are examining the recommendations coherently and as a whole, and of course a change in the law will be needed.

My hon. Friend will know that offenders are already placed under supervision if they are released on parole. David Evans was refused parole, as are nearly all serious offenders serving five years or more; he was released when he could no longer be lawfully held in prison. The case certainly adds weight to my hon. Friend's suggestion, although it should be realised that supervision is not and cannot be a guarantee against a new offence being committed.

Mr. Bermingham

Does the Home Secretary agree that crime prevention is wider than the simple act of dealing with matters such as break-ins? Does he agree that experience in America has shown the value of educational programmes, particularly in respect of crimes connected with drug abuse? Might not such programmes, perhaps funded by the Home Office supported by the Department of Education and Science, be explored as a means of preventing young people from becoming involved with addictive drugs?

Mr. Hurd

Indeed, they must be explored. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right. It is not simply a matter of enforcing the law, although that is very important: a reduction in demand for drugs—heroin, cocaine or "crack"—through education of the young in particular is crucial, perhaps even more important than law enforcement.