HC Deb 20 March 1997 vol 292 cc1065-6
8. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new initiatives he plans to introduce to combat vandalism against property. [19789]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Timothy Kirkhope)

The fight against vandalism is part of the Government's overall fight against crime. We recognise that the best initiatives against this particular crime are co-ordinated at local level, and we have made available £50 million for the introduction of closed circuit television systems which, wherever they are installed, can be effective in the detection and reduction of vandalism.

Mr. Winterton

Is my hon. Friend aware that the majority of incidents of vandalism against property in my constituency are carried out by juveniles? Does he accept that the best way to deal with them is to encourage greater parental responsibility, to bring more secure training centres or units into operation sooner, and to make greater use of closed circuit television? I am pleased to report that Macclesfield has been successful in the third round of bidding for CCTV for the town centre.

Mr. Kirkhope

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his activity in connection with the successful Macclesfield town centre bid. The Government provided more than £92,000 to assist with 11 cameras, which I am sure will have a strong effect on crime in my hon. Friend's area. We should like to have secure training centres in place as soon as possible. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has said, we have signed the first contract, for Cookham Wood, which should be operational early next year. It would have been helpful if Labour, where it is entrusted with power at local level, had been more supportive of our planning applications for secure training centres. If Labour really wants to attack crime and criminals, why does it not take actions that are consistent with that?

Mr. Henderson

The local authority in Newcastle upon Tyne has been co-operative, and vandalism has still soared. Is the Minister aware that criminal damage crimes have increased by 197 per cent. since 1979? What does he say to people who have suffered from the damage that soaring vandalism has caused in their communities? Does he admit responsibility?

Mr. Kirkhope

I say to those people, "Beware of a party which has never supported the Government's attacks on criminals, vandals and all such people." People should beware of that, not of a Government who have done so much to attack crime.