§ Mr. Giles Shaw
In January 1986, 9,257 neighbourhood watch schemes were operating in England and Wales, more than double the number in existence a year earlier. The number of schemes operating in the Metropolitan police district is now 3,770.
§ Mr. Shaw
We have evidence that, as a result of neighbourhood watch and other schemes, there has been a decline in the number of burglaries. The national trend for the first few months of 1985 was down. However, it is essential to maintain a range of activities if we are to reduce the scale of crime.
§ Mr. Skinner
Has the Minister received any applications for a neighbourhood watch scheme to be initiated in the City of London, where, apparently, the Government give a nod and a wink to swindling on a great scale? Could we have a neighbourhood watch scheme in Whitehall, which could watch the Government doctoring minutes and the Department fiddling unemployment figures? A man on the bus this morning said to me, "Marcos in the Phillipines has nothing on the Government when it comes to fiddling figures."
§ Mr. Stern
Does my hon. Friend agree that the figures he has announced will be welcomed by all those who are seriously interested in reducing crime? As a number of schemes have been in operation for comparatively lengthy periods in many areas, including my constituency, will he consider whether it would be appropriate to arrange a national conference of representatives of some of the schemes so that experiences can be compared?
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth
Welcome though the neighbourhood watch scheme is, is my hon. Friend aware that the number of burglaries increased from 643,000 in 1980 to 897,000 in 1984? Does he accept that it is about time we took some tougher measures of the sort that the public cannot expect the Opposition parties to introduce? Instead, the public look to the Conservative party to bring forward such measures. Does my hon. Friend agree that they should include corporal punishment and the withdrawal of driving licences, and even of social security benefit?
§ Mr. Shaw
I remind my hon. Friend that there was a decline in the number of burglaries in the first nine months of 1985. I think that my hon. Friend quoted the recorded crime figure, which is a different matter. I agree with him that the Government have shown the way in which to deal with crime by introducing a range of effective deterrents that are designed to combat crime and criminal activity generally.