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Crimes Of Violence

Volume 22: debated on Wednesday 28 April 1982

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asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will meet the procurator fiscal of Perth to discuss prosecutions for crimes of violence.

I have no plans to meet the procurator fiscal of Perth in the near future to discuss prosecutions for crimes of violence. However, I regard it of importance to meet procurators fiscal whenever my other responsibilities will allow, and, although no plans have yet been made, it is my intention to visit the procurator fiscal at Perth, when the work of the office generally will be discussed.

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that although unemployment in Perth is well below the national average, crime is increasing? Is there not some relationship between that increase and the trendy practices in schools and homes which have led to a breakdown in the standards and values of discipline and order? Surely that has more to do with the level of crime than unemployment.

As my hon. Friend has already suggested, there is no simple correlation between unemployment and the level of crime, but there are certainly deep-seated problems affecting responsibility for law.

My hon. Friend might be interested to know that where the Tayside police in Perthshire have exercised their powers under section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act in the search for offensive weapons, on 13 out of 23 searches offensive weapons have been found. It is difficult to see in what circumstances unemployment leads to people carrying offensive weapons.

The Solicitor-General has obviously looked into the specific issue of searches for offensive weapons in Tayside. How many of those searches could not have been carried out under the Prevention of Crime Act?

I have given the number of occasions when the specific power was used under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, and it has been used sparingly elsewhere in Scotland, as the hon. Gentleman knows. When it has been used, on a regrettably large number of occasions people have been found to be carrying offensive weapons.