HC Deb 14 February 2000 vol 344 cc600-1
13. Mr. Howard Flight (Arundel and South Downs)

What guidance he issues to chief constables with regard to protecting property and persons in neighbourhoods which are subject to regular demonstrations; and if he will make a statement. [108247]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke)

None. The policing of demonstrations is an operational matter for chief officers of police, who are well aware of the need to protect the public and property from harm and who have the necessary powers to do so.

Mr. Flight

I wrote to the Home Office more than three weeks ago about my constituents living adjacent to Shamrock farm. They have had their windows smashed and have at times been barricaded in their houses for three hours as a result of demonstrations which the police admit are aimed at achieving the closing down of the farm. Will the Home Secretary hold discussions with Sussex police to ensure that their measures to protect citizens meet the criteria of the Public Order Act 1986?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman wrote to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on 24 January about the policing of protests at Shamrock farm, and copied his letter to the chief constable of Sussex police. I am advised that a new dedicated team has been established under a chief inspector as an acknowledgement of the growing seriousness of the situation. The police hope that those protesters who have been targeting the owners and work of Shamrock farm will soon end up before the courts. Those are operational matters for the chief constable, but we are in touch with him on them. I acknowledge the seriousness for the hon. Gentleman's constituents of the events that are taking place at Shamrock farm. I assure him that the new dedicated team that his chief constable has established will focus energy on resolving those issues.