§ Mr. Proctor
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable for Avon and Somerset concerning incidents of public disorder which took place in the St. Paul's area of Bristol on Tuesday 21 June, including the ethnic breakdown of the people involved in the disturbances; and if he will make a statement on the contents of the report.
§ Mr. Hurd
I understand from the acting chief constable that at about 9.00 pm on 21 June two police officers on foot patrol in the St. Pad's area saw a man whom they believed to be driving whilst disqualified. With the assistance of other officers who arrived in police vehicles they arrested the man. These events attracted a crowd of about 50 youths, who attacked the police. The police were able to take the arrested man to a police station, but during the attack two officers were injured by missiles, and one of the officers was detained in hospital overnight. Police vehicles were damaged, including one empty car which was overturned. Later in the night the police righted the car and drove it away.
Following the initial disorder, until 3.00 am on 22 June there were intermittent incidents in the area in which, typically, small groups of youths would gather, throw stones at officers, and then disperse quickly. In addition, eight shop windows were broken, and goods were stolen from three of them.
Altogether, about 70 officers were deployed in the area, 11 more of whom were injured slightly. A total of eight police vehicles were damaged. Three more people were arrested during the night, and a further five people suspected of involvement in the incidents were arrested subsequently. The first man to be arrested has been charged with motoring offences. The others arrested have been charged variously with causing criminal damage, burglary, possession of offensive weapon, assaulting the police and offences under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936. The police estimate that most of those involved in the disorder were black.
I understand from the acting chief constable that for some months the area had largely been free from tension. We share his hope that the actions of an irresponsible minority should not jeopardise relations between the police and the great majority of the local community, who fully support the police in their efforts to maintain law and order.