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Baroness Amos: My Lords, why am I not surprised at the tone of the noble Lord's question? There are currently 20 two-member constituencies in Bermuda. The boundaries commission is looking at a variety of systems which would deliver no more than a maximum of 40 members for the assembly. I have no idea at this point what its recommendations will be, but as soon as we receive the report and are able to make it public, I shall of course send it to the noble Lord.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it not a wise general principle when dealing with constitutional change to stick rigidly to the established procedures and to ensure all-party support? Does not that principle apply as much here as in Bermuda?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, perhaps I have not made myself clear in the answers that I have given. There have been a number of instances of constitutional changes in our Overseas Territoriesalbeit some not as fundamental as thiswhere there has not been a constitutional conference or a referendum. It is important that there is a degree of agreement about the next steps. That is why we decided to consult, to have the boundaries commission look at the situation, to see what is the reaction of Bermudians to the proposals, and then to make a decision. As I have said a number of times, we have not ruled one process in or out. Our minds remain open on this matter.
Viscount Astor: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for being able to answer my Question. What is his response to the statement by Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, calling for all the crime-fighting agencies to work togetherand his implied criticism that in some cases not all the agencies are co-operating as they should be? What are the Government's plans to improve the situation?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it is extremely important that all of those organisations do work together. Equally, it is extremely important that the independence of the judiciary and the prosecutors should be preserved. Arrangements have been in place since 1997 to ensure that both at national and at local level there are good co-ordinating arrangements between the relevant agencies. Those arrangements have brought about co-ordination where it did not previously exist.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, whichever way he permutes the crime figures, does the noble and learned Lord accept that recent research indicates that in a number of police authorities crime is on the increase? Will he further accept that, now, fear of crime is much greater than crime itself? How does he expect the Prime Minister to fulfil his promise that street crime will be reduced by September?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes, my Lords, early returns from certain police forces indicate that in some areas crime may be going up. We shall have to wait until 12th July to see whether it affects the overall figures. Fear of crime is an important issue, which we need to address by having an effective police force and an effective criminal justice system. So far as concerns the Prime Minister's street crime initiative, what has happenedpicking up on the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Astoris that the agencies have all been working together with the priority of bearing down on street crime.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, can my noble and learned friend explain why the 43 separate police forces in England find it either impossible or inconvenient to collect crime statistics on the same basis? In other words, 10 crimes in one force area turn out to be either 15 or five in two others. Does my noble and learned friend also accept that there is no correlation between the number of police officers and detection rates?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, in response to the last point, detection rates do vary, and it does not necessarily depend on the number of police officers. As to the first question, of course it would be much more
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is juvenile crime recorded separately? I regularly read of people being too young to be brought before the courts. Will that be reflected in the statistics; and is any thought being given to dealing with the problem?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes, my Lords, juvenile crime is recorded separately and that will be reflected in the statistics. Juvenile crime is a problem that affects many communitiesparticularly deprived communitiesand many say that it is their number one concern. We have regarded it as a priority. As I said in my original Answer, we have halved the time that it takes from arrest to disposal of a case in relation to persistent young offenders. Delays in the criminal justice system are very undermining.
Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord take this opportunity to clarify the Government's intention as regards making evidence of prior convictions available to juries? The matter was left unclear when he talked to Mr Jeremy Paxman last night.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, when I spoke to Mr Jeremy Paxman, I indicated that a White Paper would be produced on 17th July in which a number of issues will be considered, including that raised by the noble Lord. It would be wrong for me to indicateas I did not do yesterdaywhat the White Paper will say in relation to the issue.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, are the reports correct that much street crime involves the theft of mobile telephones? If so, are the Government in touch with the manufacturers so that they can make the necessary modifications to reduce those thefts?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am not sure what the statistics indicate, but there are strong indications that mobile phones are one of the major targets in street crime. Yes, much can be done by the manufacturers making the value of the theft of a mobile phone very little indeed.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, referring to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, do the National Crime Statistics record offences committed by under-age children who cannot be charged in the courts? If not, should not some separate means be found of collecting information about the crimes that are committed by very young people, which appear to be on the increase?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I do not know the answer to that question. If the person committing an offence is below the age of criminal responsibility, I imagine that it is not recorded in crime statistics. I shall check on that and write to the noble Lord.
Moved, That leave be given tomorrow to the Baroness David to advance her Motion for an humble Address to before the Committee stage of the Industrial and Provident Societies Bill.(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)