I’ve mentioned the results of my FoI-request digging in various places, but not in one spot and not on my blog. For those not familiar with the back story, there has been a bit of a fuss kicked up about the new security arrangements for the Liberal Democrat conference this year, which requires police vetting of all attendees.
Based on an admittedly small sample size of 1 year, conference refusal rates are very different between Labour and the Tories. For the Tories, it’s 0.04% (Conservative Party Conference 2010, 6 refusals of 13,767 individuals vetted) and for Labour, 0.2% (Labour Party Conference 2010, 24 rejections of 11,988) This presumably includes non-party members, such as exhibitors.
My understanding is that usual attendance for the Liberal Democrat conference is around the 6,000 mark, which means we could expect between 2 and 12 people to be flagged up by the police. So far, I’m aware of four people that have been refused outright, including Gareth Epps, plus one more who was advised she’d fail vetting anyway, so it looks like we’re “worse” than the Tories but perhaps not as bad as Labour?
(Update: The figures suggesting that four people have been refused turned out to be premature – as of 10th September, only one person has been refused outright so far, although a significant number of other applications are still pending due to problems.)
I assume there will be more rejections, I’m just aware of those who are “connected” to the mainstream online LibDem community. Not everyone has had their approval through yet, with some not due until a week before conference starts.
We had previously been reassured that the Federal Conference Committee (FCC) had the final say on who was allowed in. However, Gareth’s failure was down to a problem with his photograph which he’s attempted to resolve with a new photograph, rather than due to any security concerns. As a result, it seems that although the power may still technically rest with the FCC, in reality they are unable or unwilling to ignore police “advice”.
Also interestingly, no equalities impact assessment was completed by the police prior to putting these new procedures in place. They have recognised the need for one and were due to complete it in July, and I have, naturally, asked for a copy. This may well prove more important for those with disabilities rather than other marginalised groups, as there were reports of security-related problems at last year’s conference.