HC Deb 21 October 1976 vol 917 cc504-5W
28. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in order to achieve better race relations, he will set up a multi-racial committee to inquire into the prevalence of mugging in London.

Mr. Merlyn Rees


29. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what examination his Department has made of the causes of the increase in mugging in London and other metropolitan areas; what proposals he has for dealing with this problem; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

I fully share the concern of my hon. Friend and many others about the prevalence of violent attacks on strangers in public places of the kind colloquially described as "mugging". There is no simple explanation of increases in crime of this kind, nor any easy solution. Its prevention and detection are primarily the responsibility of the police, with whom my Department maintains close contact. I myself discussed the problem yesterday with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, who informed me of the special attention, including high priority in manning, that he has been giving to policing in the areas of London where this is a special problem.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report on any special measures being taken by Chief Officers of Police, and in particular by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, to deal with mugging and the general increase of violent crime; what steps he is taking to ensure that police forces are recruited up to strength; and when he expects to receive the report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee on offences against the person.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave today to the Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler). As regards the second part of the Question, police forces are free to recruit up to authorised establishments, and in the first eight months of 1976 the strength of the police service in England and Wales increased by 2,481 to 109,619. As regards the third part of the Question, it is too early to say. The Criminal Law Revision Committee published a Working Paper in August on Offences against the Person on which it has asked for comments by 25th March 1977.