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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 1st July 1983.

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Photo of Mr Ernest Roberts Mr Ernest Roberts , Hackney North and Stoke Newington 12:43 pm, 1st July 1983

I shall come to that in a moment. I am dealing with what could lead to a solution to these problems.

I met three police commanders, the deputy assistant commissioner, representatives of Islington, Haringey and Hackney councils and several community representatives to discuss the problems in Finsbury Park. A number of unemployed black youths had been arrested. Their club had been closed. They were stopped, searched and charged with obstruction. Unemployed people do stand talking on the pavement. What else is there to do? They would not have to do that if they were given jobs. Bad relationships between young people and the police are created when such people are charged with obstruction.

The conference was called because of the bad feelings, and a report was made. There were complaints about the special patrol group and the instant response units. It was said that they should be cut out and that there should be more policemen on the beat to deal with the problems. A "Starsky and Hutch" approach, with motor vehicles, should not be used.

The Hackney borough council is worried. Last July it set up a consultative committee of representatives from the three political parties on the council, and from community organisations. The council has written continuously asking for police representation on that committee. The police, supported by the Home Secretary, have refused to take part. There is no question that the committee will take over control from the police. There will only be discussions between the groups about the problems in the area. The law does not provide for a borough council to take over control. It will be a genuine consultative committee.

The letter of 7 January from the Home Office stated: It was not of course the Home Secretary's intention in issuing the guidelines to seek to impose a particular model or pattern of consultative arrangements. We recognise that local needs and circumstances vary widely from one area to another and that consultative arrangements need to be tailored to suit them. The Hackney borough council and those who took the matter up with the Home Office wanted the pace on the committee. They are still waiting for that co-operation. The Hackney borough council has given the Home Secretary and the police until July—a year since it first raised the matter—to give a definite answer about the proposed co-operation.

The police have set up what they call a consultative panel. It is chaired by the chamber of commerce, the two local Members of Parliament have been invited to attend and it contains various representatives, but I am afraid that it will not be satisfactory. We need a body like Hackney borough council, which is extremely representative of the people of the area. Community representatives must be on the body so that all concerned can discuss the problems of policing.

I urge the Home Secretary to conduct an inquiry into the cases which I have mentioned, and others. He must inquire into the activities of Stoke Newington police and conduct an inquiry into the Roach case in view of the complaints made by the jury and others, and he should, at the earliest opportunity, receive a deputation from the Roach family, who wish to raise certain serious matters with him.