Crime and Disorder Act 1998

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1999.

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Photo of Mrs Christine Butler Mrs Christine Butler Labour, Castle Point 12:00 am, 26th April 1999

If he will make a statement on the role of the voluntary sector in the implementation of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. [80957]

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

Voluntary organisations have a huge amount to contribute to crime prevention and reduction and the safer resettlement of offenders. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides a framework for a wide range of voluntary bodies to be invited to participate in the work of the crime and disorder reduction partnerships. I am glad to say that many voluntary organisations have taken up that opportunity and are working closely with the statutory sector to reduce the levels of crime, not least in the vital role that they have to play in implementing the youth justice measures in the 1998 Act.

Photo of Mrs Christine Butler Mrs Christine Butler Labour, Castle Point

Will my hon. Friend congratulate the voluntary sector in Castle Point on its crime prevention work in the overall strategy for crime reduction in the constituency? In particular, will he send a message to bodies that represent the old, the very young, the vulnerable and the disabled, which promote the interests of those who most fear crime, encouraging them in the vital role that they play in the crime reduction strategy?

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

I am happy to do that. My message to the organisations working with the elderly and the vulnerable is to thank them for all that they are doing, and to tell them that their views and their concerns will be taken up in the audits that underpin the crime prevention and reduction partnerships, and will be carried forward in the strategies. They have a vital role to play in ensuring that the elderly and the vulnerable, who are most likely to be the victims of crime, are properly protected. Partnerships between the voluntary sector, the statutory sector and the police are most likely to reduce and prevent crime, and we are determined that they will have all the support that they need to achieve that end.

Photo of Graham Brady Graham Brady Conservative, Altrincham and Sale West

Will the Minister also pay tribute to the work of voluntary organisations such as the scouts and the guides in helping to keep young people away from involvement in crime? Will he give consideration to the importance of not reducing the resources available to the scouts and the guides through the £.10 levy on the vetting of people to be leaders of scouts or guides organisations?

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

Scouts and guides, and indeed the whole array of the uniformed youth service, play an important role in diverting young people from crime. They set an example in recommending a life of discipline and duty that others would do well to emulate.

As the hon. Gentleman will know, we are engaged in discussions with the sector— my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had a meeting with representatives only the other day—e that the necessary measures that we have introduced to bear down on the abuse of trust, and the welcome steps that we have taken to provide guides and scouts with access to the best possible information to prevent the service from being misused by those who would abuse children, are implemented in a way that does not place undue burdens on scouts and guides, or on any other part of the voluntary sector.

However, we are obliged—I make no bones about this—to implement a policy of the last Government as well. We must recognise that there is a cost to be met for those searches, and that we would not do the voluntary sector any good by exempting it from meeting a proportion of that cost.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

May I praise the work of tenants and residents associations, and also place on record my thanks not only to the residents of part of my constituency who have put up with hell for the past 12 months, but to K division of the Greater Manchester police for sorting out the problem?

Does my hon. Friend agree that "training" is the word that we should consider seriously? Is it not important to train everyone, from the police down, in aspects of the Act that can affect ordinary lives on the streets, so that everyone is aware of their individual powers?

Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office)

I wholeheartedly endorse what my hon. Friend has said. Training in the benefits that the Act can bring is essential not simply for the police but for magistrates—and, indeed, to increase local authorities' awareness of the powers now available to them.

Tenants and residents associations have long asked for the powers that we have given the police, local authorities and magistrates in the Act. I know that they welcome what we have done, and we are determined that the Act be used. The anti-social behaviour order in particular holds out the possibility of relief from behaviour that plagues all too many of our estates and communities. At long last, something is being done—by this new Labour Government.