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Public Disorder (England)

Volume 532: debated on Wednesday 14 September 2011

6. What assistance police forces in Scotland provided during the public disorder in England in August 2011; and if he will make a statement. (70965)

7. What assistance police forces in Scotland provided during the public disorder in England in August 2011; and if he will make a statement. (70966)

Scottish forces gave assistance to forces in England through the provision of police support units. During the debate in the House on 11 August, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said:

“I am aware of the excellent role that Scottish police officers played, particularly helping the West Midlands force. I saw for myself their impact when they arrived in Birmingham, and it is very good that our forces can co-operate in that way.”—[Official Report, 11 August 2011; Vol. 531, c. 1081.]

Does the Minister agree that the excellent cross-border support provided by Scottish police has exemplified to everyone in Britain the advantages of a flexible, devolved United Kingdom?

I entirely agree. There are many examples of Scottish forces’ playing an important role in incidents elsewhere in the United Kingdom, not least in dealing with the shootings that took place in Cumbria in 2010.

Londoners welcomed the robust standard of policing brought from Scotland during the recent riots. What plans are there for closer co-operation, joint operations and further training, so that we can learn the lessons of the past?

As the Prime Minister made clear on 11 August, Strathclyde police have achieved significant success—particularly in Glasgow—in pursuing gang-related initiatives, including a community initiative to reduce violence. They are committed to working with the Metropolitan police and other forces in England to share best practice in that regard.

During the recess, I spent six days with Lothian and Borders police as part of the parliamentary police scheme. The people with whom I worked were concerned about the possibility that the call on Scottish forces would deny them, for example, any holidays in August next year during the Olympics, and also about the possible impact on the budget of Scottish forces. Is the Secretary of State lobbying to secure adequate recompense for the Scottish forces for the contribution that they have made, and will make in the future, to English policing?

The hon. Gentleman will know that there are arrangements with the Home Office for occasions when police forces are deployed from other parts of the United Kingdom. However, I am sure that the Home Secretary has heard the specific points made by the hon. Gentleman, and I will raise them directly with the Scottish Government.