HC Deb 14 November 1996 vol 285 cc478-9
8. Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the clear-up rate for recorded crimes in each of the last five years. [2517]

Sir John Wheeler

The clear-up rates for total recorded crime in Northern Ireland during the 1991–95 period were: 1991—36 per cent., 1992—34 per cent., 1993—36 per cent., 1994—36 per cent., 1995—36 per cent.

Mr. Cunningham

Can the Minister say when we shall get some action on the White Paper on policing in Northern Ireland?

Sir John Wheeler

The White Paper on policing in Northern Ireland has been published. I should very much like legislation to be introduced at the earliest opportunity to implement the ideas in that White Paper, but that depends on legislative time being available.

Rev. Martin Smyth

While sharing concern that the clear-up rate for recorded crime is just about a third, does the Minister share my concern about continuing unrecorded crime? Specifically, is he concerned about organised boycott of traders? Is he concerned about those who have regularly blocked legal parades, even when such parades have been declared so in courts of law?

Sir John Wheeler

Of course it is true that recorded crime represents only that crime which is reported to the police, and there is always an unreported amount of crime which is not recorded but which is taken into account. Yes, I am very concerned about the issues that the hon. Gentleman mentions. All illegal acts of any kind in Northern Ireland are to be deplored, and it is the duty of the police and the courts to uphold the rule of law.

Mr. Worthington

Further to what my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Cunningham) said, to improve the crime figures it is important that we maintain the momentum regarding the police. The White Paper on the police was much delayed and now seems to have disappeared without trace—it is not in the legislative programme. We were promised a fundamental review of the police under the new Chief Constable, Mr. Flanagan. That was promised in the summer, but it has not yet been published. Is it not important, in the Government's view, that we maintain the momentum on the police, linked with crime figures and everything else to do with law and order in Northern Ireland?

Sir John Wheeler

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. Of course we should continue to propose ideas for the more effective and efficient management of the police system in Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman will understand, however, as will the House, that the fact that the Provisional IRA ended its ceasefire on 9 February 1996 has significantly changed the review of the resources of the Royal Ulster Constabulary because we are back in the business of protecting lives and property from terrorist attack. Nevertheless, ideas continue to be developed and will be implemented.

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