HC Deb 26 March 1886 vol 304 cc25-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the following account of the conduct of the Police in Leeds on Friday 19th instant:— Yesterday afternoon a scene of an unusual and not very creditable character took place in Briggate, the principal street of Leeds. The management of the Grand Theatre had issued placards 'to the unemployed,' offering work to two hundred men. The men were to apply at the stage door of the theatre at half-past twelve, and some hundreds congregated in Harrison Street. Some of the theatre officials, it is understood, became alarmed at the language used by some of the men who were rejected, and word was sent to the Police Station that a riot was in progress. A few minutes later, while the crowd was peaceable and orderly, half a dozen policemen, mounted on horses from the Fire Brigade Station, dashed along Briggate, and, turning into Harrison Street, rode down upon the closely-packed mass outside the theatre door. A scene of great confusion and terror ensued, the people flying in all directions to escape the horses' hoofs, while those who attained places of safety hooted at the Police. The latter, turning, rode out again into Briggate, which was now full of excited spectators, and these latter, to their dismay, were then charged by the horsemen, who dashed along the pavements, driving the unfortunate bystanders and pedestrians into shops, &c. and pursuing them up the side streets they sought refuge in. Returning to the main street, now crowded, they dashed repeatedly along the pavements and road, one man even kicking at the crowd as he dashed by them. An order was given for the men to confine themselves to the road, and to behave with more moderation, and after some time the excitement abated, and in an hour or so the crowd dispersed: and, whether he will cause inquiries to be made into the matter?


said, he had asked for a Report from the Leeds authorities into the conduct of the police of that borough on the 19th instant, and had been promised a Report of the facts of the case when the Watch Committee had ascertained the full particulars. When the Report reached him he would consider what was necessary to be done. He reminded the hon. Member that he had no authority over the borough police, and that none had authority but the elected Town Council.