HC Deb 11 December 1985 vol 88 cc917-8
46. Mr. Canavan

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many complaints against the police have been submitted to procurators fiscal over the past 12 months; and how many have resulted in prosecutions.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

In the past 12 months, a total of 1,093 complaints against the police have been submitted to procurators fiscal. Figures for 1985 available to 31 July show that 21 complaints have resulted in prosecution.

Mr. Canavan

Why have no prosecutions been brought against Strathclyde police, who, on 1 May this year, in Janefield street near Celtic park, caused fear, alarm, risk and injury to many people, including one of my constituents, by making repeated cavalry charges into hundreds of innocent people peacefully making their way home after a football match? If the Government are serious, even-handed and consistent about combatting violence at football matches, why should the police get away with behaviour that is worse than many forms of football hooliganism?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

The hon. Gentleman and I must use words differently if he can describe the events of that afternoon as peaceful. Not only were 21 police officers injured, but 12 civilians were injured, one police officer was rendered unconscious and required plastic surgery, and a teacher who assisted a police sergeant was seriously injured and required intensive hospital treatment. In those circumstances, and against the background of the fact that about 62 people are yet to be prosecuted and brought before the courts in relation to the events of that afternoon, it is inappropriate for me to make any further comment on the matter. However, I inform the hon. Gentleman that only two specific complaints were made to the procurator fiscal about police conduct that afternoon. I am aware that a broader and more general criticism has been made of the use of police horses that afternoon, but Crown counsel has said that no proceedings will be taken in respect of that.

Mr. Strang

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

No, I will not take a point of order yet. We are still in Question Time.

Mr. Henderson

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that although it is important to follow up in great detail complaints made against the police, that task is made much more difficult when those complaints are frivolous and malicious? Will he consider ways in which to discourage such malicious complaints against the police?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

Yes, indeed, and in recent discussions with procurators fiscal I have made it clear that if, while examining such complaints, a procurator fiscal believes that the complaint is malicious or is a deliberate waste of police time, he should warn those making the complaint that it is an offence, and that far from police officers being prosecuted, those who make malicious or time-wasting complaints against the police may be brought before the courts.