Legal

Updated: Calls for assurance on policing anti-fracking protests in North Yorkshire

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The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire is being urged to consult local people about protection for the rights to protest against fracking.

NetpolThe call by Netpol, an organisation which monitors public order policing, follows the decision by the county council yesterday to approve plans by Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton.

Netpol also accused North Yorkshire Police of inflaming the already emotive fracking debate with an “unhelpful” tweet minutes after the decision was announced.

In a separate development, the Police and Crime Commissioner said this evening the cost of anti-fracking protests in the county were unlikely to exceed £1.5m and budgets were in place.

“Clear standards and expectations”

In a statement issued today, Netpol said Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were in a position to scrutinise how police forces complied with their human rights obligations. It said:

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Julia Mulligan

“Netpol is therefore calling on North Yorkshire’s PCC Julia Mulligan to consult widely with the public, and in particular those opposed to fracking, to draw up and publish a clear set of standards and expectations, agreed by the Chief Constable, on how North Yorkshire Police will exercise its positive duty to protect the right to participate in protest against fracking.

“This should address concerns about large-scale intelligence-gathering, decisions that lead to the unfair and arbitrary categorisation of protesters as alleged ‘extremists’ and the subsequent use of increasingly coercive and aggressive tactics against them.”

The costs of protests

Julia Mulligan, a Conservative, was re-elected North Yorkshire’s PCC on 5 May this year.

We asked her to comment on Netpol’s call. Her office released the following statement this evening about the costs of  policing protests. We’ll update this post with any other comment when we receive from the PCC.

“There is a positive duty on North Yorkshire Police to facilitate lawful and peaceful protests, with fracking being absolutely no different, and I do not expect any resourcing issues as a result of the County Council’s decision.

“North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is well able to deal with such events in the calm and professional manner you would expect, ensuring any impact on local residents is kept to a minimum.

“Above and beyond our usual budgeting there are also reserves earmarked for any unplanned Major Incidents, as well as a general reserve which is there for any eventuality.  I firmly believe however that any lawful and peaceful protest will be facilitated by the police as usual, keeping costs to a minimum.

“In the worst case, there is the option to apply to the Home Office for financial support should the costs exceed 1.0% of North Yorkshire Police’s budget, or about £1.5m, but I believe that is highly unlikely to happen.”

“Unhelpful and inflammatory”

Netpol’s proposal for a PCC consultation follows a tweet and statement by the North Yorkshire force last night.

The tweet, posted at 6.56pm by North Yorkshire Police came about five minutes after the vote on Third Energy’s fracking application. The announcement that the plans had been approved was met by jeers among a crowd of about 150 opponents of fracking outside County Hall in Northallerton. The North Yorkshire Police tweet warned:

Please be aware, the police will take action against unlawful behaviour linked to the #nyshale protest”.

NY POlice tweet

It linked to a statement issued by North Yorkshire Police before the meeting started on Friday 20 May.

This said the police would take “appropriate action against those who break the law” and “not tolerate criminal behaviour and we will ensure public order is maintained”.

Netpol said:

“Raising the temperature of an already fraught and emotive debate with an unnecessarily inflammatory press release is unhelpful. It is also another indicator of all too commonplace and negative assumptions by police about what have always been overwhelmingly peaceful anti-fracking protests.

“It is this attitude that leads directly to the kind of costly and disproportionate policing operations Netpol has documented over the last three years, involving large numbers of officers and intensive surveillance on campaigners who are simply trying to exercise their rights of assembly and freedom of speech.”

At 8pm, North Yorkshire posted a more conciliatory tweet linked to a press release which praised opponents outside County Hall and thanked them for their co-operation.

NY Police Press Release

DrillorDrop also invited North Yorkshire Police to comment and we’ll update this post with any response we receive.

  • Netpol also said it was essential that campaigners understood their rights, had trained legal observers at protests and were able to access solicitors with extensive experience of public order law.

Updated at 6.15 to include statement by the Police and Crime Commissioner

27 replies »

  1. I dont recall mentioning shop keepers? Perhaps we should keep to the subject in hand. I find it fascinating that you would rather change the law regarding legal protest, but not to protect the public against pollution of their land, their homes, air, water and environment by a process that has proved ruinously disastrous across the planet and is unlikely to be much different here. Look at Porter ranch in California which has spouted more methane since October 2015 than the average yearly output of whole countries, whole comunities were evacuated. There are disasters elsewhere in USA and in Canada and Australia. The health of thousands, perhaps millions of people has been compromised and you want to overturn the rights to peaceful protest for everyone in favour of a few private companies who dont even pay their due tax.
    I say again it is entirely reasonable to make the fracking companies pay for the police services that are funded by the hard strapped tax payer. The mechanisms to charge for police services are in place and are used in many other fields. Fracking operations should be no exception.

    • I am sorry if my example of the village shop was a bit off topic. Let me try another.
      Suppose you and your associates plan to hold a peaceful meeting to plan protests against fracking. Then suppose that I gather a mob of pro-frackers , blockade your access & generally employ all the tactics anti-frackers use at drilling sites.
      You are the victim of mob action, just as the drilling operators are, but presumably you think that you ,not my lot, should pay for your police protection?
      As to the “millions” damaged by fracking I wonder why there has been so little legal action on their behalf? Please don’t bring up the tired excuse that the oil industry protects itself with expensive lawyers. When there is genuine damage lawyers are of little help. Ask BP following the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
      Of course when the damage is just the invention of protest groups even quite junior lawyers can see it out of court!
      I repeat I do not wish to curtail genuinely peaceful protest but deplore mob harassment of legal activities whether village shops, drilling operations or even anti-fracking meetings!

  2. Philip Crocker please provide evidence of your claim that the health of millions of people in USA, Canada and Australia has been compromised and in particular your claim ” there are disasters everwhere”.

    The truth is you can’t. Just another grandiose and fraudulent statement by the nimby brigade.

    What you write is a crocker alright, a crocker of inuendo and bulldust.

    • Ha Ha, Dear Michael Dobbie, you are very funny! I shall do no such thing, you shall look it up yourself! I have always found that as soon as some people lose an argument, they cease to argue the point and start to make personal comments and become abusive. Congratulations, you fit the profile. I find it fascinating that the pro frackers descend into personal abuse when a point is made that they do not want to address.
      Getting back to the point in hand, I would direct anyone who reads this to look at the Porter Ranch event, the documentaries Gasland and Gasland 2 , Voices from The Gas Fields, Split Estate, Ian R Crane series of Fracking Nightmare, There are several documentaries on the Frack Off website, Fracking in America, Fracknation, Triple divide and many others available on you tube or direct from the websites.
      Dear Michael, can you indicate one single independent investigative documentary, book, or other source that is pro fracking?

      Have a nice day Michael.

  3. Philip Crocker any scerick of credibility your had went the monent you recommended gasland. You could not be serious with any of the riveting suggestions you suggest

    Are you suggesting they are independent investigative presentations like you ask me to indicate.?.

    [edited to remove personal remark]

    • Michael Dobbie, when challenged I supplied you with a long list of world leading, highly respected organisations that all warn of the dangers associated with fracking.
      ( not once did I mention gasland )

      You failed to respond.
      Why is that ?

      Would you like me to re-paste this long list again on here for your analysis ?

  4. Always good to have the facts at hand, as in all things, so these may help if anyone is unsure of the exact process.

    FRACKtured future is a good source for information on the fracking process.

    Dr. Tony Ingraffea speaks from the viewpoint of scientific, technological and engineering fact.

    • Oh my god. If anyone wants to Google I.R.Crane, then just Google his name. He’s a crook who sells these videos at £5 a pop. He’s a legend in the anti fracking,and aliens are coming world. He’s just been fined £40,000 odd grand for trying to make up media gobblegook to stain Third Energy as a company. The whole court room laughed at the guy,told him to stop wasting tax payers money in the courts,and this time fined him and get him to pay. The man is finished.However,if plonkers want to keep paying him £5 for junk,lies,and quite frankly,delusional bullshit,then he only needs to 8000 videos and his court fine is payed. Oh dear Mr Crane. The game is finally up my friend. You’ve ripped of the general public by spouting lies and all for your self benefit.Complete Clown.
      Again,jus Google or Tube him.Absolute all sorts. Enjoy.

    • Oh my god. If anyone wants to Google I.R.Crane, then just Google his name. He’s a crook who sells these videos at £5 a pop. He’s a legend in the anti fracking,and aliens are coming world. He’s just been fined £40,000 odd grand for trying to make up media gobblegook to stain Third Energy as a company. The whole court room laughed at the guy,told him to stop wasting tax payers money in the courts,and this time fined him and get him to pay. The man is finished.However,if plonkers want to keep paying him £5 for junk,lies,and quite frankly,delusional bullshite,then he only needs to 8000 videos and his court fine is payed. Oh dear Mr Crane. The game is finally up my friend. You’ve ripped of the general public by spouting lies and all for your self benefit.Complete Clown.
      Again,jus Google or Tube him.Absolute all sorts. Enjoy.

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