Disturbances (London)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 28th March 2011.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:30 pm, 28th March 2011

I thank the right hon. Lady for the tone in which she conducted most of her comments. Unfortunately, towards the end, she chose to move into a rather more political tone.

May I make two factual corrections to the right hon. Lady’s remarks? First, she claims that I withdrew a statement to the House, but I never asked to make one. Secondly, she said that I intended to put the Mayor of London in charge of the Metropolitan police, but, of course, he is in charge of them.

I, too, put on record the House’s support for and thanks to all those involved with the Metropolitan police who were not in police uniform or not warranted officers who took part in the policing operation on Saturday, both in relation to the march and the mindless acts of violence that took place.

The right hon. Lady mentioned the possibility of co-ordinated action. She will have noted that I said in my response that I was prepared to look at the possibility of some sort of pre-emptive banning orders for hooligans, which we have in place for football hooligans. It is now worth our looking at such experience, and I welcome the support she was willing to give on behalf of the Opposition. Everybody in the House wants to ensure that the police have the right powers and tools available to do the job of keeping our streets safe. The great majority of the march went ahead peacefully, but, sadly and unfortunately, it was damaged by the mindless violence of the thugs. The description given by Liberty is a very good one:

“The demonstration appeared to have been infiltrated by violent elements who periodically separated from the main route in order to attack high profile commercial properties and the police before melting into the demonstration once more…This minority presented significant challenges for the police and trade union stewards alike and at times jeopardised both the safety and ability to protest of those with peaceful intent.”