Lancashire Police issued a correction today to its earlier statement that 150 people had attempted to break into Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road after an anti-fracking national day of action on Saturday (25 February 2017)
The statement, posted on the Fylde Police Facebook page, had said
“A significant number of protesters believed to number around 250 made their way to the Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road
“Around 150 of those proceeded to try to breach the fencing and to gain access to the site.”
Preston New Road Action Group, which opposes Cuadrilla’s activities, complained that the information was incorrect.
Today, the force retracted the statement.
It said on Facebook:
“Following an event on Saturday at Maple Farm badged as a national day of anti-fracking action we posted information on these pages suggesting that a large number of protestors had tried to breach the fencing and to gain access to the site.
“This information was incorrect and it was in fact a handful of people, understood to be largely national protestors, who engaged in disorder. The remainder, and the vast majority, protested lawfully and we would like to apologise for any distress caused to those who attended and did protest lawfully.
“Our approach is always to ensure a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to lawfully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.
“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but where it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.
“An investigation is on-going to identify any criminality.”
Preston New Road Action Group said today:
“We’re pleased to see the correction and clarification from Lancashire Police regarding the weekend’s defamatory comments that “150 people breached the fence” has now been amended to “a handful of people” at Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road.
“It’s a shame that much reputational damage has already been done to the public’s perception of peaceful protestors, but there is nothing that can be done about that now.
“People will continue to express their right to peaceful protest, however they choose, as Cuadrilla continue to operate in our community with no social license, mounting planning breaches and in the face of ongoing legal challenges.”