Law and Order

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd August 1978.

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Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North 12:00 am, 3rd August 1978

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the success of the police forces in upholding law and order.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

The police services are to be commended for the way in which they have responded to the challenge of increasing crime. The increase in strength which will, we hope, result from the implementation of the Edmund-Davies report, and the increases in financial resources which the Government have made available, will strengthen them in their difficult task.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is she aware that we have read newspaper reports this morning about the Metropolitan Police Commissioner asking for quite remarkable new powers and that this matter will need very careful study? Is my hon. Friend prepared to accept the proposition that what is really required is much closer liaison between all police forces, education authorities, the Magistrates' Association, chambers of commerce, trades councils and that sort of thing? In other words, will my hon. Friend consider establishing a partnership between the police and the people?

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

I entirely support what my hon. Friend has said. In many areas, including my constituency, there is such a partnership. The police are making every effort to make links with the local authorities, voluntary organisations and members of the public so that everyone works together.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Camden Hampstead

Does not the Minister agree that it would be much more helpful if, first, courts used their powers of sentencing rather more severely than they do now, within the existing sentences, and, secondly, some of her hon. Friends could give a little more support to the police than customarily they do?

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

The courts have powers given to them by Parliament, and it is for the courts to use them in each individual case as they see fit. It would be quite wrong for Parliament to tell the courts how to use their powers.