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Scarman Report

Volume 13: debated on Thursday 26 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to publish the Scarman report on urban disturbances.

I did not know that when I tabled the question. Will the right hon. Gentleman be rather more forthcoming about what he means by "welcoming" and "accepting" the Scarman report? Does he agree that it is no good welcoming and accepting it if he does not provide the resources and the legislative time to introduce the recommendations that are set out in Lord Scarman's report? Will he confirm that he broadly accepts the recommendations on random checks of police stations and the banning of racist marches?

I made clear yesterday, though some did not think that I did, the matters involving the police that I accepted. I said that the problem of banning racist marches—I have banned them on a considerable scale during recent months—should be considered within the review of public order. I accept also the need to consider carefully how best to achieve arrangements to enable lay people to visit police stations. I think that it is reasonable to reserve some of the comments that I shall make until the debate that is shortly to take place on these issues and until we reply to the report of the Select Committee on Home Affairs on racial disadvantage. I hope to prove that my words yesterday were not empty ones.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the prime duty of the police is to protect the public and deter criminals? Is he further aware that, since the riots in Brixton, there has been an increase in street crime of about 25 per cent., mainly involving the mugging of white people by blacks?

It is the job of the police to deter criminals and protect the public. I support what my hon. Friend says. The job of the police is to deal with crime from wherever it comes, without any different standards. That is not my opinion alone. Lord Scarman made that clear when he said that it was right to retain the special patrol group for that purpose. He said that it was right to retain the powers of stop and search. He said that it was important to face up to the need for the police to deal with crime at all times. I fully support what Lord Scarman said. I appreciate the problem involved in policing some of our inner city areas. Equally, I accept that we cannot tolerate crime such as exists in Brixton. That is also something with which the police must deal.