HC Deb 09 June 1997 vol 295 cc776-8
2. Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to address the circumstances that lead to criminal activity. [915]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alun Michael)

As well as speeding up youth justice, we plan to implement a wide range of measures to divert potential offenders away from criminal activity. We intend to have parental responsibility orders to ensure that parents face up to their responsibilities when their children misbehave and new child protection orders to help keep children off the streets and out of trouble late at night. We are also determined to break the vicious circle between crime and drug and alcohol misuse, and, through our welfare to work programme, enable young people to find work and stay in work.

Mr. Cunningham

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his appointment to the Front Bench. This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to do so. Does he recall the series of meetings held both in Coventry and in the House of Commons to discuss juvenile crime and, in particular, community safety orders? Can he give us an idea when those safety orders will be introduced so that we can satisfy people in Coventry, who have been extremely concerned about that?

Mr. Michael

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks. I know of the great interest that he took in this matter during the last Parliament. I was grateful for his active support on a number of Committees dealing with legislation. We should also pay tribute to the efforts made by Coventry city council, working with the local police, to find a way, despite the gap in legislation, to control some of the difficult problems that have arisen. I agree that there is a problem. When we were in opposition, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary touched a chord when he proposed community safety orders, which will enable the police and local authorities to tackle the real problems experienced throughout the country, and he was applauded for that. We intend to make allowance for introducing those orders within the crime and disorder Bill, which will be debated later in the Session.

Mr. Greenway

Will the new Labour Government honour the pledge of the last Conservative Government and introduce more closed circuit television cameras in towns and villages, as they have had a devastating effect in reducing crime?

Mr. Michael

The hon. Gentleman's question would have been more impressive had he checked the Home Office budget. He would then have seen that although the previous Home Secretary made statements during the election period, he made no financial allowance to fulfil those manifesto commitments. He has not put the money in the budget.

Mr. Cunliffe

Is not one of the principal reasons for the rise in youth crime pointed out by many licensees and suppliers: under-age drinking is on the increase? Does he agree that the best deterrent would be to introduce some form—voluntary or compulsory—of identity card, to include photograph and age?

Mr. Michael

A voluntary identity card is still under consideration, but my hon. Friend is right to identify the problem of youth drinking and rising youth crime. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East (Mr. Howarth), has taken up the issue of alcopops with the industry and is pursuing it vigorously. Alcohol-related crime is a serious problem. The steps that we intend to take in relation to youth crime will have a significant impact, but the problem of drink-related crime among young people, as among older groups, is serious.