HC Deb 08 February 1881 vol 258 c344

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the statement in the "Daily News" that a person giving the name of Smyth, and stating that he was a member of the police force, was present at a meeting of the Anti-Coercion Association last Saturday night at the Occidental Hotel, and that the man Smyth, on being questioned as to his object, stated that he sympathised with the Anti-Coercion movement; and if he can state if instructions have been given to detectives to attend the private meetings of such associations, and to secure admission by such statements as that of sympathy with its object?


Sir, no instructions have been given to detectives to procure admission to meetings under such pretexts as are referred to in the Question of the hon. Gentleman. Policemen, either in plain clothes or in uniform, attend in the vicinity of all public meetings, to prevent rioting-, and to be at hand if their services are necessary for the preservation of the peace. I am informed that a meeting was held at the place in question on the day named; and a police officer, seeing persons assemble there, went in, and, having been informed that it was a private meeting, immediately withdrew. Although I have answered this Question at length, I would submit to the House that if it is considered necessary and desirable to have detective police, it is not desirable that the instructions that are given to such police should be made public.