Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General for Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th December 1982.

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Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram , Edinburgh South 12:00 am, 15th December 1982

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many charges of vandalism have been brought by his Department in the past six months.

Photo of Mr Peter Fraser Mr Peter Fraser , Angus South

The latest figures available for charges of vandalism are for 1981, when 2,619 persons were prosecuted. Of these, 2,379 were convicted. The only figures available for 1982 are for the number of compensation orders made following conviction. During the six-month period from 1 April to 30 September over 900 cases of vandalism were subject to compensation orders.

Photo of Michael Ancram Michael Ancram , Edinburgh South

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware of the increasing anxiety and fear, particularly among the elderly, in constituencies such as mine about vandalism? Will his Department ensure that the invidious crime is dealt with by consistent and effective prosecution?

Photo of Mr Peter Fraser Mr Peter Fraser , Angus South

The figures are unacceptably high. It will be the Crown Office's policy to ensure that, where possible, people who have committed crimes of vandalism are caught, prosecuted and, we hope, convicted. An important feature of the new crime of vandalism is that about two-thirds of the cases have attracted compensation orders, which are of great benefit to the victims.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

How many people convicted of the new crime of vandalism would have been convicted anyway under another part of Scottish legislation? Is this not purely a cosmetic exercise, as the offenders would have been charged anyway?

Photo of Mr Peter Fraser Mr Peter Fraser , Angus South

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the figures. I am surprised that, after two years, he still takes that attitude. Is he aware that SCOLAG believes that having the specific crime of vandalism brings the situation home to the offenders, the victims and the public at large?

Photo of Mr David Myles Mr David Myles , Banffshire

Would not a little bit of corporal punishment administered shortly after the incident reduce the number of such crimes?

Photo of Mr Peter Fraser Mr Peter Fraser , Angus South

I am happy to say that that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Is not the Solicitor-General a little alarmed and annoyed by the fact that the Conservative Party chairman in Scotland, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram), after four years of Conservative Government has anxiously to seek assurance that the Crown Office is doing its best to combat vandalism?

Photo of Mr Peter Fraser Mr Peter Fraser , Angus South

Not at all. When we introduced the crime the hon. Gentleman opposed it and said that it was purely a cosmetic exercise. It is recognised in Scotland as a useful addition to our armoury in the fight against crime, particularly when accompanied by a compensation order.

Mr. Ron Brown:

When will we deal with the vandals in the Government who are responsible for mass unemployment, cuts in our living standards and other ills? Should not the workers have the right to demonstrate, and will not demonstrations occur more frequently as the situation gets worse? Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the Government will inevitably have to face a winter of discontent?