Crime and Drugs

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1995.

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Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill 12:00 am, 20th April 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the relationship between crime and drugs. [18364]

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

The exact nature and extent of the relationship are unclear, but the Government remain committed to tackling both drug misuse and other criminal activity.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

When the Government come to look at the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986, will they look again at the seizure of assets and the way that money is diverted to central funds? Does the Minister not have some sympathy with the views of the Merseyside police authority, and other police authorities too, that funds that are sequestrated and seized from drug barons should go back into schemes that counter drug abuse and help those who have become drug addicts?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

Although such a scheme has a superficial appeal, it could lead to erratic funding year by year, because it would depend on police forces getting sufficient assets every single year to continue their excellent work. I think that it is better to allocate the large amounts of money that we allocate—about £500 million per annum—on all aspects of drugs prevention and police work, and also the substantial funding that we make available to police forces. That ensures consistency and adequate funding and does not make the police service depend each year on haphazard drug catches.

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier , Harborough

Does my hon. Friend agree that the installation of closed circuit television in town centres is one of the ways of tackling crime, particularly drug crime? Will he accept the thanks of the people of Market Harborough since, as a result of the £40,000 grant from the Home Office, closed circuit television will shortly be installed to make the streets more secure?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for his wise words. If he cares to invite me to Market Harborough, I shall accept the thanks in person. The big boost that we have given to CCTV in the country should make a tremendous difference in helping the police. The 106 schemes that my right hon. and learned Friend was able to announce in England and Wales could mean up to 1,000 extra CCTV cameras, which will give help to the police and protection to the public, and reduce the fear of crime.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael , Cardiff South and Penarth

The Minister says that the exact relationship between drugs and crime is unclear, but do he and the Home Secretary not now accept that there is a frightening link between drug-related crime and the use of weapons? Will the Minister remind the House of the truth of events last year, that there was nothing in the Home Secretary's Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill to deal with drug-related crime or weapons offences until the Labour party tabled amendments to increase penalties and make the law more effective?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Minister of State (Home Office)

The hon. Gentleman is attempting to rewrite history. It would be better if he reminded the House of the number of occasions on which the official Opposition voted against parts of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, and of their firm determination to abstain on parts of the Bill. They are now saying that they played an instrumental part in it, but they abstained on its Second Reading. The fact is that the Government have set key objectives for the police service: first, to bear down on violence; secondly, to bear down on burglary; and, thirdly, to bear down on local crime problems, particularly drugs. That is a measure of our commitment to dealing with the problem.