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Vandalism

Volume 884: debated on Wednesday 22 January 1975

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any proposals to curb vandalism.

Such measures as the strengthening of the police force, crime prevention campaigns and the provision of better recreational facilities are valuable and important, but the greatest contribution to reducing this mischief would be a stronger sense of community responsibility, and this it is my object to encourage.

Is not talk of community responsibility altogether too vague? Is not something much more positive wanted from the Government to deal with this great social evil? Why cannot the Minister consider the suggestion made by his hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey)—a suggestion which I have made in the House—that these guilty people should be made to help put right what they have disfigured? Will the hon. Gentleman consider that positive move towards overcoming this grave social evil?

The Government are fully aware of the problems caused by vandalism and have been vigilant in introducing new and helpful measures to deal with the problem, but in our view the hon. Gentleman's suggestion would not be helpful.

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, is he not being rather complacent? Surely he should treat more seriously a suggestion made by both the Opposition and his hon. Friend. Is he aware that the Criminal Justice Act, which allows reparation by the offender, has been tried out in some areas of England and Wales with considerable success? Will he not do something about this, instead of sitting back and doing nothing?

There is certainly no complacency on my part, or on the part of the Government. We are very concerned about vandalism. Of that there can be no doubt. The figures of committals from the children's panels in Scotland are up by a substantial percentage, and most of those committals were as a result of vandalism. It does not become the hon. Gentleman to say that no measures are being taken. The Government are very much aware of the problem of vandalism, and they are doing and will continue to do everything in their power to resolve it.