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Police and prosecutors drop nearly half Balcombe anti-fracking protest cases

The cases against nearly half the people arrested at the anti-fracking protests outside Cuadrilla’s drilling site Balcombe have been dropped by police or prosecutors.

The finding was revealed following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made by InvestigatingBalcombeAndCuadrilla.com to Sussex Police.

According to the police response, a total of 126 people were arrested at the protests between July 25th and September 30th last year. Of these, 57 people, or 45%, were either cautioned, not charged or had their cases discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after they were charged.

The figures in detail are:

126 people arrested

14 (11%) people cautioned

21 (17%) people had their cases discontinued by police before they were charged

22 (17%) people had their cases discontinued by the CPS

Sussex Police said 90 of the 126 people arrested were charged with a total of 114 offences and what it described as one “bind over matter”. But as the figures above show, of the 90 people charged, 22 (just under a quarter) had their cases discontinued following a review by the CPS or after their first hearing at court.

InvestigatingBalcombeAndCuadrilla.com asked for details about charges made under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, legislation designed to prevent secondary picketing. To be guilty, a person must have tried to intimidate someone into stopping work by using or threatening violence, damaging property, hiding tools or clothing, or stalking. The maximum sentence is six months in prison.

According to the FOIA response, the majority of people charged at Balcombe under Section 241 of the act had their charges changed. Sussex Police initially charged 30 people with the Section 241 offence. According to police records, 21 people had the charge changed by the CPS to other offences. The police response says five people still remain in the court system on a Section 241 charge.

You can see the full response from Sussex Police at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/arrests_and_charges_arising_from#incoming-470151

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