27th March 2014
Details emerged yesterday (Wednesday) of the long hours worked by police officers on duty at the Balcombe anti-fracking protests last August. Two officers, giving evidence at the trial of five campaigners including MP Caroline Lucas, said they worked shifts of 14-16 hours.
The case at Brighton Magistrates Court has been examining events outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site on August 19th. Several officers have told the trial that the number of demonstrators was larger at that time because of the temporary Reclaim the Power Climate Camp between Cuckfield and Balcombe. An order under Section 14 of the Public Order Act was in place, which allowed police to require demonstrators to use a designated protest area.
Inspector Rachel Carr, a protest liaison officer at the demonstrations, said “We always started at 6am. We worked anything between 14 and 16 hours a day.” Inspector Carr explained how she was instructed to give a notice of the Section 14 order to a group of demonstrators, including Miss Lucas.
Another officer, PC Louise Dudson, talked in her evidence about “14 hours standing in the sun with very little refreshments”. She told the court that she arrested Sheila Menon, who was sitting next to Miss Lucas and is another of the five people on trial.
All the campaigners deny charges of obstructing the highway and failing to comply with a Section 14 order. The case continues this morning (Thursday) with more evidence from police officers.