Metropolitan Police (Demonstration Casualties)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th April 1975.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Mather Lieut-Colonel David Mather , Esher 12:00 am, 10th April 1975

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a special fund for those members of the Metropolitan Police Force injured in violent demonstrations; and if he will make this retrospective.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

The police pensions scheme makes provision for officers who are forced to retire as the result of an injury on duty, and any officer injured through an assault, or while effecting an arrest, may apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Assistance to officers injured on duty, or their dependants, is among the objects of the Police Dependants' Trust and my right hon. Friend and I do not think it would be appropriate to set up a separate fund.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Mather Lieut-Colonel David Mather , Esher

Is the hon. Lady aware that that answer does not get to the root of the problem, and that violent demonstrations place a heavy burden on the police? Is she aware of Sir Robert Mark's recent speech in which he said that sentences were so lenient in the London area that prosecutions were hardly worth bringing? Will she comment on those remarks?

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

That is a separate point from the original Question, but I confirm what the hon. Gentleman says. In his report on the Red Lion Square disorders, Lord Justice Scarman said: there may well be good reason to wonder whether magistrates do always appreciate the gravity of an offence against public order. It is for the courts to decide what penalty should be imposed in any particular case. I am sure that they will note what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Will my hon. Friend be good enough to convey to the police the appreciation of hon. Members on both sides of the House of the exemplary patience and courtesy shown by the vast majority of police forces in dealing with most demonstrations, which are totally non-violent?

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

I certainly concur with what my hon. and learned Friend has said.