HL Deb 03 December 1985 vol 468 cc1183-4
Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to encourage measures to prevent burglary.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, the Home Office is actively working to develop a range of measures to prevent burglary, including improved physical security measures and neighbourhood watch schemes. For example, the results of a property-marking demonstration project in South Wales published earlier this year showed a marked reduction in domestic burglaries in the project area during the evaluation period. The results of findings such as this and many other initiatives are disseminated to police forces and other local agencies concerned with the prevention of crime. We believe that a high proportion of burglaries could be prevented through concerted action by the police and the citizen.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Can he say how successful the neighbourhood watch schemes have been and can he also say whether other agents or bodies, and possibly insurance companies, will be involved in helping in the fight against crime?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, certainly neighbourhood watch schemes are proving as successful as we hoped they might be, if numbers are anything to go by. They have increased from some 3,000 in January this year to approximately 7,200 schemes now. As regards bodies other than government taking part, yes, I think my noble friend is right: crime prevention is a matter for all sections of the community. We see a role for the building industry, architects and planners in providing more secure properties, and for the insurance industry in encouraging, through the introduction of premium differentials, house contents policy holders to improve their security.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, may I ask the Minister when we are to have a debate in this House on crime prevention and the involvement of the community? We have discussed prisons and prisoners at great length, but, so far as I know, we have not discussed crime prevention during the last 12 months.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, that is a matter for the usual channels.

Lord Winstanley

My Lords, have the Government any comprehensive advice to offer regarding the installation and use of burglar alarms? What steps can be taken to minimise the nuisance suffered by suburban residents from the persistent, and presumably fruitless, ringing of burglar alarms?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I should certainly be happy to give the noble Lord as much information as I possess, perhaps in writing. I realise that when these alarms go off they can be a nuisance to those living in the local community. I shall gladly find that information and let the noble Lord have an answer.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, will the Government urge the Central Office of Information to give publicity to that splendid advice which used to be given by Lord Chief Justice Goddard that, if people would only take the simple precaution of locking all the doors when they go to bed, they would stand a good chance of confining the burglar to the one room which he has broken into and they might thus escape being attacked in their beds?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I think that the noble Lord puts his finger on a very good point. There are many precautions which individuals can take in their homes to make it difficult for burglars, and it is important that every one of us should adopt sensible and prudent measures to help the police and all those who try to prevent crime.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that it is not quite as simple a matter as that? The last time that I was burgled I was taking an after-lunch nap. The burglar came in through the kitchen skylight, walked through the room where I was napping, removed my notecase and went about his business. The police said that he did not leave a clue!

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I should have thought that that pointed more to the serious dangers of sleeping after lunch.

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