Burglaries

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 1991.

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Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes 12:00 am, 6th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the proportion of domestic burglaries which do not involve forced entry.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

In 1990, 26 per cent. of domestic burglaries in the Metropolitan police district involved no forced entry. Figures released today by the Metropolitan police show that that figure has increased. Comparable figures for the whole of England and Wales are not available for 1990, but 18 per cent. of burglary victims interviewed for the 1988 British Crime Survey said that their homes had not been left secure when they went out.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

Does not that reply clearly show that people can do much to secure their homes? From the statistic that my right hon. Friend quoted, it seems that roughly one in four or five burglaries occurs as a result of the fault of the individual householder not securing the property. Is there not a way round that by giving much greater support to neighbourhood watch schemes? Is it not outrageous that some Labour local authorities refuse to allow neighbourhood watch scheme stickers and posters to be displayed on street furniture?

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

Alas, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I apologise, Mr. Speaker. I normally perform later at night when you are not in the Chair. Alas, Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is perfectly true that by joining a neighbourhood watch scheme and taking simple precautions, such as property marking and ensuring that good locks are fitted to doors, people can do a great deal to prevent burglary. It is impossible to make a home 100 per cent. safe, just as wearing a seat belt—something everyone should do—cannot make the wearer absolutely safe in a road accident. However, as my hon. Friend said, neighbourhood watch performs a valuable function. It is very sad that the Labour party nationally has not been able to persuade some Labour-controlled local councils, such as Cleveland, to take the neighbourhood watch movement and support of it more seriously.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The British public are sick to death of the Government trying to shuffle off responsibility for rising crime rates on to the victims. Of course there is an element of carelessness among the public and we want people to be more security conscious, but we have had 12 years of astounding rises in crime. The Government cannot shirk the responsibility for that or for underfunding crime prevention initiatives. Why do the Government not once in a while back the police instead of stopping the police doing their job—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The police are crying out for resources to help neighbourhood watch, but will not get them from this Government.

Photo of Mr John Patten Mr John Patten , Oxford West and Abingdon

The hon. Gentleman can do joined-up shouting, but he cannot do much joined-up thinking, as his question showed. When I gave him the opportunity, he lamentably failed to respond to my point about the need to talk to Labour authorities which do not back neighbourhood watch schemes. This Government have given more resources to the police than any other Government this century. There has been a 52 per cent. rise in resources for law and order under this Government. Finally with regard to crime prevention, according to the Labour party's policy document, Labour intends to give responsibility for crime prevention to local authorities. Tell that to the people of Lambeth and Liverpool.