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High-Profile Policing

Volume 600: debated on Monday 12 October 2015

Naturally, the Government do not issue specific guidelines for police forces on high-profile policing. The College of Policing sets the standards for professional practice to support police forces and other organisations so that the public are protected.

I have been going to Conservative party conferences for more than 30 years. [Hon. Members: “No!] They’re only jealous. The policing at these conferences has always been high profile, but this was the first one where I have witnessed those working in hotels and the conference centre, as well as delegates, having to run a gauntlet of demonstrators shouting vile abuse at people—tantamount to hate crimes—spitting and throwing eggs. The police response was totally inadequate. What conversations will the Minister have with the police chief for Manchester, and what action can be taken in future to ensure that those attending conferences can do so safely?

I think we would all agree that people attending any party political conference or people working there should not need to go through the type of abuse that took place there. This is a matter for the Metropolitan—I mean the Greater Manchester police; it is usually a matter for the Metropolitan police— and, to be fair, I have already had conversations about this issue. A review is going to take place, and I believe that the Conservative party will be having consultations, too.

May I say that Labour Members share the disgust of the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) for what was seen to happen there, which does not have any place in legitimate protest? Those involved in no way spoke for anyone on the Opposition Benches.

High-profile policing is incredibly important in Chesterfield, and the Minister will be as alarmed as I was to learn that there has recently been a significant increase in the number of burglaries in Chesterfield and Derbyshire. Will he listen to representations from the police and crime commissioner about the real pressure on our police force and will he help the police and the police and crime commissioner to cut burglaries in Chesterfield?

Of course I will work closely with the police and crime commissioner and chief constables in the 43 authorities for which I have responsibility. As for the conference itself, the vast majority of police officers did a fantastic job. It was often decisions made above them that told them what they had to do. I am naturally concerned if there has been an increase, which is against the national trend: crime has continued to fall under this Government.

If the Conservative party conference is to return to Blackpool one day, it is absolutely key to get the Lancashire police funding formula right. Increasing concern has been expressed this weekend among Lancashire MPs of all parties, so I would be grateful if the Minister would meet me and other Lancashire Members to discuss the police funding settlement.

I thought it was you, Mr Speaker, in your days on the Back Benches, who could manage to get such a question in. It was very cleverly done by my hon. Friend, and I will naturally meet any delegation from any party to talk about police funding.

What a difference 30 years makes. Thirty years ago, we were talking about the police being harnessed by a previous Tory Government to close down the pits, sack the miners and carry out ethnic cleansing of the pit villages. Now we are told by the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) that they are starting to get worked up about the cuts in pay and cuts in police forces. You want to be careful what you wish for.

I know that policing is devolved and that we have an extremely professional and able police force in Northern Ireland, but when considering high-profile policing and looking at the other end where cuts are coming through in Northern Ireland and there are fewer police on the ground, is the Minister aware that that means that the paramilitaries and those working in crime will see their opportunities? Will he discuss how to tackle that problem better?

With all due respect to the hon. Gentleman, this is a devolved matter, and as the former Minister of State with responsibility for Northern Ireland, I know just how devolved it really is, which is right and proper. The National Crime Agency currently operates in Northern Ireland, but this is a devolved matter, so it is something the hon. Gentleman needs to take up with David Ford.