HC Deb 02 March 1998 vol 307 c702
15. Ms Blears

What steps he is taking to combat crime against businesses, with particular reference to inner-city areas. [30353]

Mr. Michael

The Crime and Disorder Bill requires local authorities and the police together to conduct an audit of local crime and disorder and to develop a strategy to cut crime. They are required to involve the wider community, including the business community, in that process. We are also working with business to tackle specific problems, such as retail and car crime.

Ms Blears

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. In cities such as Salford it is crucial that businesses, which are the key to economic regeneration, feel safe and protected. I know it is difficult, but has my hon. Friend considered involving businesses in some of the community punishments, such as the reparation order, that make the people who commit crimes face their effects on the prosperity of the whole community?

Mr. Michael

Yes. My hon. Friend is right. I visited Milton Keynes recently, as did my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and saw the way in which the business community is productively engaged with the people who are involved in the correction of offenders. We visit various cities—my right hon. Friend will visit Salford on 2 April—and such visits give us the opportunity to discuss the issue with business. I am pleased by the way in which business is engaging with our agenda to cut crime.

Mr. Hawkins

The Minister will be aware that a number of crimes against businesses have, sadly, spread from inner-city areas to other urban areas. Several businesses in my constituency have recently been targeted by ram raiders. Will the Minister confirm that he is urgently liaising with police forces to tackle that serious crime against businesses?

Mr. Michael

Yes. In recent weeks, I have had several discussions with police forces about smaller town and rural crime. Those problems will be addressed by our proposals, because we need a partnership between the police, local authorities and the communities in smaller urban and rural areas as well as in the cities.