HC Deb 10 April 1975 vol 889 cc1396-7
10. Mr. Mather

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a special fund for those members of the Metropolitan Police Force injured in violent demonstrations; and if he will make this retrospective.

Dr. Summerskill

The police pensions scheme makes provision for officers who are forced to retire as the result of an injury on duty, and any officer injured through an assault, or while effecting an arrest, may apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Assistance to officers injured on duty, or their dependants, is among the objects of the Police Dependants' Trust and my right hon. Friend and I do not think it would be appropriate to set up a separate fund.

Mr. Mather

Is the hon. Lady aware that that answer does not get to the root of the problem, and that violent demonstrations place a heavy burden on the police? Is she aware of Sir Robert Mark's recent speech in which he said that sentences were so lenient in the London area that prosecutions were hardly worth bringing? Will she comment on those remarks?

Dr. Summerskill

That is a separate point from the original Question, but I confirm what the hon. Gentleman says. In his report on the Red Lion Square disorders, Lord Justice Scarman said: there may well be good reason to wonder whether magistrates do always appreciate the gravity of an offence against public order. It is for the courts to decide what penalty should be imposed in any particular case. I am sure that they will note what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Greville Janner

Will my hon. Friend be good enough to convey to the police the appreciation of hon. Members on both sides of the House of the exemplary patience and courtesy shown by the vast majority of police forces in dealing with most demonstrations, which are totally non-violent?

Dr. Summerskill

I certainly concur with what my hon. and learned Friend has said.