HL Deb 11 October 1993 vol 549 cc1-3

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress is being made in encouraging the installation in cars of concealed tracking devices to enable them to be accurately located immediately after being stolen.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, concealed tracking devices are a valuable development in the fight against vehicle crime. All mainland United Kingdom police forces are making use of this new technology.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his reply, which is a helpful addition to the reply given to me on 22nd July. Is not the most effective deterrent against car thieves an increased likelihood of being caught? With the new devices, that could happen shortly after the commission of the crime.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I could not agree more with my noble friend.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, while I acknowledge the endeavours of the Government, which are extremely welcome, can the noble Earl say whether there is contact between the AA, the RAC and the relevant government departments to do something in regard to the point raised by his noble friend?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, it is not a matter for the AA, the RAC and the government departments. The police scientific and development branch evaluated the equipment and found it to be the most suitable. The Association of Chief Police Officers considered it. It advised all its police forces to acquire the equipment, which has been installed free of charge. It is now a commercial undertaking and people should purchase for themselves the relevant bits of equipment to install in their motor cars. I hope that as many people as possible will do that.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, does not the noble Earl agree that the devices referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, are preferable to the audible alarm systems? They continually wake us up and achieve nothing at all.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ezra. They are a remarkable advance on that technology. However, I would not underestimate the use of audible alarms even though they periodically and frequently go off when they should not.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, will the Minister accept that we are grateful to him for his second response to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy? We are delighted to learn that the Government believe that detection is the most important aspect in the control of crime, rather than increased sentences as was suggested in Blackpool last week.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I thought better of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey. He knows perfectly well that the Government have always said that detection of crime is essentially important. He should also know that it is essential that when people have been detected and convicted, they should pay the proper reparation for the damage they have caused.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, given that theft of and from cars amounts to 30 per cent. of the total of crime committed in this country, can the Minister give us some indication of the number of cars fitted with the tracking devices?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that answer. The instrument has been in use in the United States for six years. It was introduced in this country in July and was only put on sale from the end of August. My guess is that as yet there are not too many. However, if all noble Lords will be kind enough to give the same consideration towards fitting their vehicles with these instruments as they have given to the Question, no doubt the numbers will increase considerably.

The Viscount of Oxfuird

My Lords, can my noble friend give comfort to those of us who pay our insurance premiums regularly and suggest that it may not be a bad idea for the fitting of one of those devices to reduce one's premium?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the major insurance companies have already agreed to offer discounts on motor insurance premiums to motorists who fit the tracking device in their cars.

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