Public Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 8th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:49 pm, 8th June 2020

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his thoughtful comments and his considered response not only to my statement but to the appalling events that we have seen, and the violence in particular. He is absolutely right about the processes around the removal of the statue and the violence that was associated with it. We live in an open society and in a democracy. We have the means and mechanisms to bring statues down and to change society in the way we wish.

The hon. Gentleman is right about peaceful protest, which remains an important part of society and the way in which we have our voices heard—the way in which we come together to combat the inequalities across society, to give service to those communities who sometimes feel that they have no voice and to find ways to bring together the aspects that can help to change lives and bring social justice together, rather than causing divisiveness in the way that was alluded to.

The hon. Gentleman referred to a number of points, some of which were aired during oral questions. When it comes to the Windrush review, I could not have been clearer: I will return to this House to talk about the recommendations within the context of inequality and many of the criticisms that were levelled at the Home Office over a substantial period. It is right that we do that.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about health inequalities, life chances and the lack of opportunities—particularly for the black community—as well as violence and the criminal justice system. These are issues that we have to tackle together to understand the root causes and societal causes but also, importantly, to provide the right solutions and the right support to the community across the country.

I echo the hon. Gentleman’s words about our police officers, in particular the injured officers, who have sustained the most appalling injuries. I spoke to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner this morning and heard from her that the officers are recovering. They have sustained some awful, horrendous injuries, including a punctured lung and, where the bike was thrown at the horse, a broken collarbone. I wish all the officers a swift and good recovery. That type of behaviour is thoroughly unacceptable and is exactly what we never want to see again on our streets.

When it comes to coronavirus, our police continue to operate by consent and ensuring community engagement, which is at the heart of policing by consent in the United Kingdom. They have the support of the communities within which they operate and work with the organisers. However, the police and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner have been absolutely clear that, with the protests that we saw over the weekend, there were no community organisers to engage with. I made a plea on Saturday and urged all the community organisers behind the protests to engage with the police, so that people could protest safely and prevent the spread of the virus, and also violence and disorder could be prevented from taking place. Sadly, that did not happen. Going forward, we must work together collectively to prevent acts of violence and thuggery of the kind that we saw at the weekend and ensure that people who want their voices heard can find the right ways of doing that without necessarily coming on to the streets and protesting.