§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Howard)
I visited Basil don on Saturday 20 November last year, when I visited Basil don police station and also attended a large and extremely enthusiastic meeting of my hon. Friend's constituents.
§ Mr. Amess
Following the highly successful visit of my right hon. and learned Friend to Basildon, will he tell the House what progress has been made on the 27 points contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill? Will he join me in congratulating Basildon police, whom he has met, on their increased detection rate and on their efforts to unite the community in the fight against crime? Does my right hon. and learned Friend recognise that, following the launch of my road show and meet the people campaign, the six yobs whom I accosted on Saturday after complaints from local residents, would be taken to a centre of detention—
§ Madam Speaker
Order. We are not in the middle of debate. I want a question for the Minister so that he can give a direct answer.
§ Mr. Howard
I agree with my hon. Friend. Secure training units are essential if we are to bring persistent young offenders under control. I congratulate Basildon police on the substantial increase in their detection rate. Progress on the implementation of my 27-point programme is excellent.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
What measures does the Home Secretary intend to take to lift the low morale of police officers in Basildon and throughout the county of Essex which has been conveyed to him by their Police Federation?
§ Mr. Howard
I have to disagree with the hon. Gentleman on the basis of my encounter with the police in Basildon, to which I referred in answer to my hon. Friend. When I met the police in Basildon, morale was excellent and they were looking forward to continuing the excellent progress that they have made in increasing their detection rate.
§ Mr. Blair
Does the Home Secretary agree that in Basildon, as elsewhere, the battle against crime simply cannot be won unless we fight drugs and drug abuse? Will 384 he undertake now, as a matter of urgency, to wake up to the seriousness of that situation and combine measures—[Interruption.]Drugs and drug-related crime is a serious issue. Will he wake up to the seriousness of that issue and combine measures that drive the drug dealers off our streets with measures that educate and teach our young people of the dangers of drug abuse?
§ Mr. Howard
Yes, of course I shall do that. Of course, drug misuse is a very serious matter. Of course, it plays an important part in crime. Of course, we must take it seriously. However, when we consider what the hon. Gentleman says, we find, as so often, that his words are long, but his action is extremely short. He made a long speech on drugs recently in which, at the end, we found a piffling three paragraphs on Labour strategy, most of which relates to things that we are already doing.