HC Deb 02 March 2004 vol 418 cc860-1W
Lady Hermon

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were convicted of joyriding offences in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years; how many of these incidents resulted in(a) fatal and (b) non-fatal injuries; and what steps he is taking to reduce these figures. [144345]

Jane Kennedy

"Joyriding" is currently not a specific offence in law so the information is not available in the format requested. The table sets out the number of convictions for taking a motor vehicle without the owner's consent from 1997 to 2001 which is the most up to date information available.

Taking a motor vehicle without the owners consent
1997 453
1998 401
1999 294
2000 328
2001 350

The following tables set out details of collisions involving stolen vehicles and hit and run collisions but the identification of those specifically relating to "joyriding" could be obtained only at disproportionate expenses.

Road traffic collisions involving stolen vehicles1; 1998–2002
Fatal collisions Serious collisions Slight collisions Total
1998 6 29 165 200
1999 3 25 196 224
2000 4 45 228 277
2001 6 50 231 287
2002 5 29 192 226

Road traffic collisions involving hit and run vehicles2 1998–2002
Fatal collisions Serious collisions Slight collisions Total
1998 6 44 483 533
1999 9 54 550 613
2000 4 98 734 836
2001 4 83 738 825
2002 6 103 659 768
1Stolen vehicles only include those vehicles which are known by the police to be stolen
2Hit and run vehicles may include vehicles which are stolen

The PSNI are involved in a number of initiatives to reduce the number of vehicles taken without the permission of the owner. In West Belfast an Auto Crime Team has been established to specifically address this issue. While such initiatives can help reduce the incidence of vehicle crime it has been recognised that a long-term strategy is required and the PSNI are working in partnership with a number of agencies and groups, to tackle this problem as part of a multi-agency project. Each District Command Unit uses a range of resources and methods to target vehicle related crime in their area as effectively as possible.

In addition to these measures the Government will publish draft legislation for Northern Ireland for consultation by the end of January, aimed at tackling so-called "joy-riding" offences. The proposed legislation will introduce two new offences: "aggravated vehicle taking", attracting a maximum prison sentence of five years and "causing death or grievous bodily injury by aggravated vehicle taking", which will attract a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. These tough new measures are part of the Government's overall strategy to specifically target and punish so-called "joy-riders".