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Vehicle Security

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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19.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will bring forward proposals to ban the sale of car skeleton keys to the general public.

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to ban or control the sale of skeleton car keys.Many people, such as locksmiths and garage owners, have a legitimate need for such keys. These devices are, however, often no more effective in gaining entry to locked vehicles than other more rudimentary tools, such as screwdrivers or shaped pieces of metal, and often require some skill on the part of the user to work effectively.Inquiries made by the Home Office crime prevention centre and the Association of Chief Police Officers have found that there is no evidence of widespread misuse of skeleton car keys. In particular, the Association of Chief Police Officers has reported that these devices have not been found in the possession of offenders charged with either theft of or from a vehicle. We therefore see no need at present to consider legislating to control the possession, sale or advertising of skeleton keys. We shall, however, continue to monitor closely the sale and use of these devices. It should be noted that it is already a criminal offence, under section 25 of the Theft Act 1968, to carry skeleton keys for use in connection with any burglary or theft, and an offender is liable to imprisonment for up to three years.