HC Deb 07 July 1994 vol 246 cc440-1
8. Mr. Simon Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what initiatives he has taken to maximise the use of new technology in crime prevention.

Mr. Howard

I attach particular importance to the use of new technology in the fight against crime. Recent initiatives include the successful promotion of closed circuit television as a crime control measure and close co-operation with the vehicle manufacturers to promote the use of effective car immobiliser systems. We are also pushing forward with a number of major new crime and technology initiatives to assist the police in combating crime.

Mr. Coombs

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that closed circuit television surveillance schemes, many of which have been funded by the urban fund and by the safer cities campaign, have significantly helped to reduce crime in the precincts and car parks of our inner cities and towns? Does he agree that people want more cameras and less crime—not the other way round, as suggested by some civil liberties groups?

Mr. Howard

I entirely agree. My hon. Friend the Minister of State launched a new CCTV scheme in the centre of Liverpool just a couple of days ago. I think that CCTV can make a significant contribution to the fight against crime. We certainly want to encourage its spread.

Mr. Bennett

Although video cameras in shopping areas and housing estates can be a useful way to deter crime and catching criminals, will the Minister accept that there is now a need for a code of practice governing who should have access to the cameras and the purposes to which they can put the information gained from them?

Mr. Howard

That matter is currently under consideration by the Association of Chief Police Officers, and I want to await the results of its deliberations before deciding whether any action needs to be taken. I am in no doubt at all of the contribution that CCTV can make to the fight against crime.

Mr. John Greenway

Will my right hon. and learned Friend take this opportunity to scotch the rumour in a recent issue of Police Review about plans to disband the national criminal intelligence service? Does he agree that the use by NCIS of information technology is probably the best weapon the police now have to fight international organised crime?

Mr. Howard

I certainly do. NCIS is seen across Europe as a model for how policing against major crime can most effectively be carried out. There is no question of disbanding it; I take this opportunity of paying tribute to its work.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the Home Secretary confer with his colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry on the prevention of car crime through rendering illegal the re-chipping of mobile phones, which is increasingly an objective of the criminal?

Mr. Howard

We are looking at that matter. The National Board for Crime Prevention is conducting an investigation into it. It is not quite as simple as the hon. Gentleman suggests, but we are certainly examining it.