Row over fracking protest policing bill

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The police and crime commissioner for Lancashire has called for the escalating costs of the police operation at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site to be footed by central government.

On Wednesday 8 March Clive Grunshaw visited the site near Blackpool, where tensions between protesters opposing shale gas exploration and police have heightened in the last two weeks and where up to four riot vans are a regular presence.

The police and crime commissioner (PCC) told Big Issue North: “The police are working hard to keep everyone safe but I’m really concerned about the strain that this is putting on officers and the drain on our resources, making the thin blue line even thinner.

“I will be writing to ministers to tell them that the escalating costs of this operation should fall on national government rather than Lancashire taxpayers as Lancashire did not approve fracking on this site.”

At the beginning of last week police said there had been around 30 arrests at the site, mainly for suspicion of offences under section 14 of the Public Order Act. Reports from the site claim up to five more arrests were being made daily. Big Issue North witnessed three in under an hour on the afternoon of 7 March.

Grunshaw’s visit followed several incidents in which protesters, including two local councillors and a local farmer, have been hurt during conflict with police.

The PCC said: “While it’s clear that some people have concerns about the actions of the police it is important to remember that officers are being placed in a difficult, if not impossible, position between facilitating peaceful protest and allowing people to carry out their lawful business.”

He added: “During my visit I had the opportunity to speak with several protesters and some did raise concerns about alleged overzealous policing. In Lancashire there is a formal and well-publicised complaints process in place. I would urge anyone who believes that they have evidence that can be substantiated to follow this process. I am aware that councillor Cox has already done so and her complaint is currently being investigated.”

Lancashire Constabulary said “We’re aware of the claims which have been made and we are looking into them.”

Cox said she felt that protesters had been treated politely by Grunshaw but that little would change. She told Big Issue North: “We appear to have a stalemate in that they feel it’s proportionate and reasonable. We don’t feel we are making any headway at all.”

For more on the fracking protests see A Tidal Wave of Force 

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Interact: Responses to Row over fracking protest policing bill

  • John Levis
    10 Mar 2017 17:51
    So if you promote an event like a football match or concert you pay towards policing - if you run a (subsidised with tax breaks) multi-national business you dont. 1. The provision of policing at a football match, or any other commercial event such as a music concert is a "special police service".[1] Special Police Services are governed by section 25 of the Police Act 1996: The chief officer of police of a police force may provide, at the request of any person, special police services at any premises or in any locality in the police area for which the force is maintained, subject to the payment to the police authority of charges on such scales as may be determined by that authority. 2. In effect special police services are extra police officers provided for the purposes of security at commercial events. The event organiser must pay for this service at a price determined by the chief constable; if the cost is not met then the organiser can be denied a safety certificate and cannot hold the event.
  • Lou
    09 Mar 2017 23:34
    What a crock of shit. I have been to the anti fracking site to observe on several occasions. Not including myself in the protests but being a peaceful member of the local community. The attitude of the police towards me even when I said a pleasant 'hello and good morning' was nothing more than rude. Not all but the majority!!! I live in this area and have been totally disgusted with our local police and witnessed abuse and assault towards other protestors who have been doing nothing wrong. Shame on the local police!!! I will certainly look at you in a different light from now on!!! I had a local thrift try to break into my home... In a very nice area I have to say... Three/four weeks ago. I'm a single mum with a daughter living with me. I rang the police and reported it... To this day I've had NO response or visit... Yet your using our tax money to fund the crap I've witnessed today!!!! Absolutely ridiculous you should be ashamed of yourselves. I have no faith in the police anymore.
  • Jane
    09 Mar 2017 23:15
    Cuadrilla, the company responsible for the planned fracking, should foot the police bill, especially as they advised the police. It also has to be said that the over-policing is completely unnecessary. As is the heavy handedness. These are peaceful protectors and you really don't need 8 police to each person.
  • Iris Aeyn
    09 Mar 2017 19:52
    Having observed the police presence and strategy numerous times at site, I am sorry to say that I can see unnecessary manoeuvres and inflammation occurring. For instance, yesterday there was a wonderful peaceful gathering with up to 250 people in attendance. We had drums, music and vegan food. The attendees had travelled far and wide to show they oppose fracking and many many locals came too. There was not a single incident during this event that began at 930. Suddenly, a local businessman arrived and having committed no offence, was almost instantly arrested. Why? It is typical of the police approach here. I call it incitement. It is used to justify presence and intimidate protectors and also serves to con the public into seeing anti frackers as anti social. It won't wash, won't work and it is a costly mistake.

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