§ 8. Mr. Maclean
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how his Department intends to improve crime prevention.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
The crime prevention unit, and the Home Office standing conference on crime prevention, which I chair, are actively engaged in the development and evaluation of a range of precise measures to prevent burglary, theft and auto crime. The results of those initiatives are disseminated to police forces and other local agencies involved in the prevention of crime.
§ Mr. Maclean
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply, but may I suggest one further immediate initiative that he can take? We are all grateful for the marvellous increase in police numbers in Britain, which the former Home Secretary instituted, but is not the time now ripe for a massive increase in the police force, as that is one of the most socially desirable increases in manpower that Britain can have?
§ Mr. Shaw
I appreciate my hon. Friend's remarks and his tribute to our noble Friend Lord Whitelaw for his achievement in increasing police numbers since 1979. I am sure my hon. Friend will recognise that the effectiveness of the police force depends not just on numbers, but on deployment and skills applies. I am sure 645 he will recognise that, for example, the use of civilians to allow more officers to be deployed on operational matters is also an important contribution.
§ Mr. Soley
Why will the Minister not be clear and straight with the House in the way in which he frequently is in other matters? He knows that the answer to the question is that the Government have no plans to improve crime prevention. They have cut back on just about every scheme designed to prevent crime in Britain that has ever been devised. It is no wonder that the crime rate is going up, and it is no wonder also that people are getting fed up with the Government's approach to law and order when it is so clearly an abysmal, dismal failure.
§ Mr. Shaw
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is well versed in dismal failures. However, I remind him of the range of activities that the Government have introduced. There are over 3,000 individual neighbourhood watch schemes and 200 crime prevention panels, including 60 schemes in Cumbria. The Government have a total commitment to the improvement of police establishments, conditions and pay, in order to continue the fight against crime. I regret to say that the hon. Gentleman would see that dissolve if he were in power.
§ Dr. Glyn
Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most important things is neighbourhood crime prevention schemes? Will he give that idea every encouragement, as that is the only way in which the police can be adequately informed, and by which people can know exactly what is happening in their areas?