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Police (Complaints)

Volume 524: debated on Monday 7 March 2011

16. What assessment she has made of the trends in levels of complaints against police forces in England and Wales in the most recent period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. (44055)

The police complaints statistics for 2009-10, published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, show an 8% increase in recorded complaints against the police in England and Wales over the previous year. It is right that citizens should feel able to hold the police to account for the service they provide, and improving police accountability is a top priority of this Government.

I am grateful to the Home Secretary. May I raise a matter that I have raised with the authorities before, which is about the practice of kettling, first, at the G20 demonstrations, then at the student demonstrations last autumn and, even, on new year’s eve, when dealing with crowd control? Does she have any further thoughts that she can share with the House on how the increasing number of complaints about the practice can be dealt with in an effective and long-term manner?

Of course, within the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, we are putting forward some proposals to enhance the complaints procedure against the police, and we have been doing that work in consultation and discussions with the IPCC. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will also be interested to know that the senior officer in the Metropolitan police with responsibility for public order has recently made several announcements about how containment will be dealt with in future, making it clear that, should containment take place, toilets and water will indeed be provided, and that an individual will be available on site to ensure that those who are vulnerable or wish to leave are able to leave such areas.