§ Mr. Parry
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Cheshire on the number of pickets who have been injured in the Stockport Messenger dispute at the latest date; and if he will list such injuries.9W
§ Mr. Hurd
The chief constable tells me that he understands that between 9 November and 1 December inclusive 22 people informed hospital authorities that their injuries had been incurred in the picketing outside theStockport Messenger premises. The chief constable understands that most of the people did not need to stay long at a hospital. The most serious injury appears to have been a fractured leg, incurred by a man struck by a vehicle attempting to leave the premises during the night of 24 November. The man had repeatedly thrown himself in front of vehicles in an attempt to stop them. On each previous occasion police officers managed to pull him away; on the last, they were unable to do so before he was injured.
§ Mr. Parry
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Cheshire into the disturbances at the Messenger Group works, Warrington; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Hurd
The chief constable informs me that the first disorder associated with the picketing outside the premises, which began on Friday 4 November, was on Wednesday 9 November. Between 2 am and 8 am that day the number of pickets increased from two to about 300. A window of the premises was broken and the word "scab" sprayed in paint on the wall. Stones were later thrown at windows, but no damage was caused. About 200 pickets remained until 4 pm; by midnight the number had dwindled to six. On Tuesday 15 November, about 30 pickets arrived; shortly afterwards damage to a fence was reported. By 8.40 pm there were about 250 pickets, numbers of whom remained into the early hours of Wednesday 16 November. At 2.45 am that day, a van which had left the premises had its tyres slashed; pickets gathered round it, but dispersed after two were arrested. At 8.5 am two people were arrested for offences of criminal damage to a van leaving the premises and at 9.10 am the driver of a car was arrested. During Tuesday 22 November the number of pickets grew from about 40 to over 700 awaiting the exit of vans from the premises. At about 2 am on Wednesday 23 November, while the police were holding pickets back to enable a van to leave, a 6 ft high concrete wall collapsed and an officer was trapped underneath, incurring a broken leg and facial cuts. A woman police officer was bruised in the same incident. The number of pickets declined during the later hours.
From the late morning of Wednesday 23 November to late that night, the number of pickets grew from about 30 to about 350. During the night, one picket incurred a leg fracture, after repeatedly throwing himself in front of vehicles attempting to leave the premises and having to be pulled away by police officers. The pickets reduced in number through Thursday 24 November.
Between 9 and 28 November inclusive, a total of 37 arrests were made, for public order offences and others including assault on the police, criminal damage and obstructing the police. In the same period, a total of seven police officers— including the officer whose leg was broken and one whose arm was broken— incurred injuries, and eight pickets are recorded as having been injured. The number of police officers deployed at any time varied from two to 334.
For the chief constable's account of the violence and disorder overnight on 29–30 November, I refer the hon. 10W Member to the statement that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary made to the House on 30 November.
By 9.15 pm on Wednesday 30 November, when one van left the premises, there were about 300 pickets, and the number grew by midnight to about 1,000. The number reduced gradually through the early hours of Thursday 1 December. Another van left at about 5 am. Both vehicles had left as planned. Some 1,600 police officers were deployed, from the Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Staffordshire and West Midlands forces. Twenty four people were arrested, for public order offences and obstruction. One police officer was injured, as a result of an accidental fall. One picket is recorded as being injured. By 8 am on 1 December, there were about 20 pickets.
§ Mr. Parry
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Cheshire about how many pickets have been arrested at Messenger Group works, Warrington. at the latest date.
§ Mr. Hurd
The chief constable tells me that 147 people were arrested between 9 November and 1 December inclusive.