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Crimes Of Violence (Youth Gangs)

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent violent and other offences committed by youths have increased during the past year five years and 20 years, respectively; what percentage of those offences have been committed by those known as "Edwardian" gangs; and whether he will carry out a Departmental inquiry into the origin and nature of these gangs of youths.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available for the whole country. In the Metropolitan police district, 406 persons under 21 years of age were dealt with for crimes of violence in 1953 and 9,002 for other indictable crimes; the comparable figures for 1952 were 310 and 10,287, and for 1948, 336 and 11,320. The information asked for in the second part of the Question is not available. As regards the last part of the Question, I cannot find on present information that an inquiry of the kind suggested is necessary, and there is little I can add to the reply which I gave to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Kemptown (Mr. H. Johnson) on 6th May last.

Do not the figures which the Home Secretary has given show that, contrary to public assumption, there has not been a very great increase in crimes of violence among these young people? In those circumstances, would it not be well to make it clear that these so-called "Edwardian" youths in exotic clothing are not necessarily more prone to violence than were their predecessors years ago?

I liked the approach which was made to me by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and someone else on the last occasion. I shall be very glad to see the boys' clubs and young persons' interest aspect of the matter developed as much as possible.

Is it not desirable to make some inquiry so as to give these youths a measure of exoneration for what has been a slander?

We have the information in the figures. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the figures are probably smaller than were expected, but they are much too large for any complacency. This is a matter to which we must direct all the attention and power we can.