For boys aged 16, the offender rate has fallen from 10,900 per 100,000 in 1984 to 9,300 in 1993. For girls aged 16, it has risen from 1,600 per 100,000 to 2,200 in 1993.
I am afraid that it is not possible to measure detection rates for different age groups.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on joining the Privy Council and you, Madam Speaker, on your honorary doctorate. Monitoring the offending rate for different age groups is as important in respect of general crime as it was in the successful attack on changing the culture of drink driving. If we seriously want to reduce the number of victims, we have to stop the flow of 1,000 or 2,000 people a week who, for the first time, commit serious crimes.
I thank my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. He has tremendous knowledge of and experience in dealing with young people through the Church of England Children's Society, where he was a leading expert. He is absolutely correct about the careful monitoring of young offenders and potential young offenders. I want to monitor not only 16-year-olds but those considerably younger who begin to go astray for the first time. We intend to see what measures we can take to keep them on the strait and narrow. If they wander off it, we shall need an appropriate range of penalties rising progressively up the scale.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. A disproportionate amount of crime is committed by a tiny number of young people. We shall take the measures that his party has consistently voted against in the past two years. Despite the Labour party voting against the powers to deal with that hard group of young offenders, the powers are on the statute book and we shall introduce them as soon as possible.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that there would be less crime among 16-year-olds if school discipline were more effective? School discipline would be more effective if moderate corporal punishment were restored to the heads and staff of schools as a proper sanction against under-16s who misbehave? Would that not stop many of them appearing before the courts?
My hon. Friend knows that children spend considerably more time under the influence of others rather than school teachers. Their time in the evenings and at weekends in the family home is even more important than the time they spend in school. Of course, teachers have responsibility but I would not put the sole responsibility for bringing up properly educated, well-disciplined children on teachers alone. Others in society have a responsibility: first and foremost, parents.