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Question

Volume 202: debated on Monday 4 July 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that the Returning Officer for the county of the Isle of Wight addressed, on the 4th day of June last, a letter to the Bench of County Magistrates at Newport, stating that he had reason to fear that disturbances would take place at the approaching Election, and praying that the County Police might assist the Borough Police in keeping the peace, and that the letter was immediately forwarded to Captain Forrest, the chief constable of the county of Hants; also that on the same day a letter was sent to the Mayor of Newport by Mr. Secretary Bruce, informing him that at the Election of 1868 there had been disturbance at Newport and ill-usage of persons by the mob, and reminding him that, should the local force of police be insufficient to ensure the protection of electors and candidates at the ensuing Election, it was open to him, under the 22nd and 23rd Vic. c. 32, s. 2, to call in the assistance of the County Police; whether on the 6th day of June last, the Mayor of Newport sent a Copy of the letter to Captain Forrest, and required him to direct a sufficient number of county constables to act within the borough of Newport on the day of nomination and on the day of polling; that Captain Forrest refused to do so, and that the Mayor of Newport attributes the disturbances which took place on the day of polling to such refusal; that ten men have been committed for trial, charged with rioting at Newport on that day; and, whether he is prepared to take any measures likely to prevent such proceedings at future Elections for the County of the Isle of Wight?

said, in reply, that it was true that the returning officer for the county of the Isle of Wight addressed a letter to the county magistrates at Newport, in which, anticipating disturbances at the Newport election, he prayed that the county police might assist the borough police, and the letter was forwarded to Captain Forrest, the chief constable of the county of Hants; that the Home Secretary warned the Mayor of Newport that a riot had occurred at the election in 1868, and that under the 22nd & 23rd Vict. c. 32, s. 2, it was open to him to call in the assistance of the county police; that the Mayor communicated with Captain Forrest, who said he was unable to furnish the required assistance, and did not furnish any further explanation; and that a riot occurred and 10 men had been committed for trial. As the chief constable was responsible to the county justices, he had forwarded the chief constable's letter to them, and they would no doubt take it into their consideration. As to whether he was prepared to take any measures likely to prevent such proceedings at future elections, he must say he thought these disturbances had partly arisen from the fact that some boroughs would insist upon having an independent constabulary force of their own. Newport had a force of only five policemen; at the time of the election the county police were otherwise engaged; and, under the circumstances, it was not to be wondered at that sufficient means were not at hand for preserving the peace in the borough of Newport.