Neighbourhood Watch

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11 March 1993.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke 12:00, 11 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reduction in levels of recorded crime have been achieved by the introduction of neighbourhood watch schemes.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

Many factors influence recorded crime levels and, generally, it is not easy to isolate the influence of neighbourhood watch overall. However, detailed studies in parts of the Kirkholt estate in Rochdale and in a council estate in Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester have shown that neighbourhood watch schemes can have an effect on the rate of recorded crime.

Photo of Mr Andrew Hunter Mr Andrew Hunter , Basingstoke

Does my hon. Friend agree that the most successful neighbourhood watch schemes are those that draw on the energies of local people and local police and that any statutory requirement on local authorities to promote crime prevention could stifle those successful schemes with red tape?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. When I previously looked at work done in 1987 on the cost of crime to local authorities, it came to £500 million. I am sure that the thought of saving that money would appeal to local authorities and encourage them to play their role in the partnership approach to crime prevention.

We wish to encourage the development of neighbourhood watch. A new neighbourhood watch co-ordinators' manual is to be produced soon and further Home Office advice will be available on local crime prevention panels to encourage that partnership approach.

Photo of Mr Robin Corbett Mr Robin Corbett Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (National Heritage)

How does the Minister square his claimed support for neighbourhood watch, which Labour Members strongly suport, with the current freeze on police manpower in England and Wales, given that the most successful schemes involve large amounts of police time? Will he examine that matter?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I am delighted to have some endorsement of our partnership approach to crime prevention. The neighbourhood watch scheme was introduced by the Conservative Government. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the police, but he and many of his hon. Friends do not talk about the effective use of the police. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is looking to improve the peformance of the police.

Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Uxbridge

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is insufficient work coming into Uxbridge magistrates court to enable the five courts to sit as they usually do? Is that due to a dramatic fall in the level of recorded crime in Uxbridge or some other matter?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I am certainly aware of some of the issues that have been discussed recently in relation to police clear-up rates. In the case of Uxbridge, I doubt whether crime is going down in total terms, but we are looking carefully at that analysis. I know that the Metropolitan police are looking at it. One of the values of good management information is that it shows up certain trends and encourages analysis of them.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

The Minister is familiar with neighbourhood watch schemes in my area, but he has drawn most attention to the impact of the Lewisham safer cities project in terms of crime prevention. Does he recall the summer youth challenge, which cut youth crime in Deptford by 28 per cent. and the Deptford business security scheme, which cut crime by 25 per cent? Where is the sense in cutting the Lewisham safer cities grant by two thirds when it delivers such results?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I remember the summer youth challenge. I was delighted to see the result and I have inquired into how it is continuing. The hon. Lady knows that at the outset of safer cities there was never an assurance of limitless funding from the Home Office for the first 20 projects. The job now is to use the £100,000 grant fund for the next financial year, together with the £500,000 fund from which safer cities projects can draw, to develop an exit strategy to put in place a lasting, locally based partnership in places such as Lewisham. The hon. Lady has demonstrated the effectiveness of the concept of safer cities and I am sure that the community in Lewisham would wish to continue it.