Legal

New data on policing costs and arrests at Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking site

Preston New Road 170403 Cheryl Atkinson 2

Policing at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, 3 April 2017. Photo: Cheryl Atkinson

Lancashire Police has said its operations at Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool will cost an extra £450,000 a month.

The figures were provided to the Blackpool Gazette and published today. Link here

The information coincides with the release of data provided to DrillOrDrop on arrests at the Preston New Road site, at Little Plumpton.

According to the response to a Freedom of Information Act request, there were 35 arrests between 5 January 2017, when work started at the site, and 5 March 2017. All but seven arrests resulted in charges. 24 arrests were for alleged public order offences.

“Increasing activity, increasing cost”

Lancashire Police told the Blackpool Gazette it had spent £200,000 on fracking issues in the past financial year on top of its annual budget.

The future monthly bill of £450,000 would be spent on police overtime and keeping vans and officers at the fracking site.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations have protested at Little Plumpton since January. This has ranged from daily vigils to direct action, such as lock-ons.

A police spokesperson told the paper:

“We estimate the additional cost will be around £450,000 a month from April (this will be kept under review and published). We also estimate we will have spent up to £200,000 additional costs in the current financial year.”

“The increase is because activity at the site is increasing. Additional cost is one that we have not budgeted for and is therefore a drain on our financial resources.

“It is costs we would not have incurred if we did not have to police the operation, covering things such as overtime.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, has said the government should pay for policing because the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave the go ahead for fracking in the county. (DrillOrDrop report)

After the visiting the site last month, he said:

“This is not a problem made in Lancashire, this is a decision that the Government made after Lancashire turned it down.

“The Government gave the go ahead for this experimental drilling, they should foot the bill for policing the protest.”

Today he was quoted as saying the Government expected Lancashire to pay for the first £2.6m. He said he would raise the issue with ministers and the local MP.

Nearly four years ago, Sussex Police faced a bill of £3.398m for two-month long operations at protests outside another Cuadrilla site at Balcombe. The Home Office contributed £905,000 towards the cost.

Reactions

Claire Stephenson, of the anti-fracking Preston New Road Action Group, described the policing costs at Little Plumpton as “outrageously excessive”. She said:

“[They] must be footed by central government and actually, Cuadrilla themselves.

“Both have thrust themselves on an unwilling community, using sly tactics and top-down forced politics to get their own way.

“We said no, we will continue to say no and we will resist on every level. I can’t imagine what the government was thinking, expecting communities to step aside for a dirty industry to roll in, unhindered.”

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, told the Blackpool Gazette:

“Neither our operations nor peaceful, law abiding protests require the attendance of Lancashire Police at the Preston New Road site.

“The police are unfortunately however required there on a daily basis in order to control the activities of a small group of mostly non-local activists.

“These activists are happy to break the law in an effort to disrupt Cuadrilla’s operations.”

Data on arrests

Data provided by Lancashire Police to DrillOrDrop reveals there were 35 arrests in the first 60 days of the protests at Preston New Road. But during this period people were arrested on only 10 dates.

Charges and arrests

Data release under the Freedom of Information Act to DrillOrDrop

The largest number of arrests was on 20 February 2017, when nine people were arrested. This was the day of an eight-person lock-on outside the site.

Name of charge

Most of the arrests were for alleged public order offices. The largest single reason given for arrest was under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. This gives power to police to impose conditions on public assemblies, such as location, duration or maximum number of people.

charge or not

Seven people who were arrested outside the site during this period were not charged.

35 replies »

  1. “Claire Stephenson, of the anti-fracking Preston New Road Action Group, described the policing costs at Little Plumpton as “outrageously excessive”.

    I agree. Where we disagree is who should pay the costs. It is appropriate that the protestors should pay the costs, after all, if they were not there, there would be no Police presence required.

    I never saw a protestor at any of the onshore UK drilling locations I worked on, south and north. Nor did I ever see anyone from the Police.

    We had problems in East Sussex before the drilling operation with a few antis at public meetings but otherwise nothing.

    • That would set a curious precedent wouldnt it?

      Because extrapolating that example it would mean that if the police investigate a burglary, then the victim of the burglary would have to pay for it if the police could not catch the burglar? On the other hand a well off person or organisation could commit all sorts of very expensive crimes and anti social behaviour, such as polluting an entire eco-system, and be ordered to pay the whole bill? That bit sounds good to me? Football hooligans would have to pay millions for policing (not a bad thing) and enemies who invade countries could be charged for it? Ooops perhaps we had better not have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq? Did we send the bill to Gutierrez by the way?

      It puts a whole new spin on a capitalist police state doesn’t it?

      its one of those situations that really comes down to who started the process in the first place, if we want to get down to brass tacks, a good old Lancashire expression, now lets see, who started the ball rolling?

      Was it the people of this country that invited this industry to invade and set up shop?

      No, so that excludes the tax payer.

      was it the protesters?

      No, they only began protesting after the o&g industry had set up shop in our most treasured and pristine beauty spots that we thought were sacrosanct.

      Was it the government? Well partly, but i suspect they were approached by the o&g industry in the first place…..

      Was it the o&g industry?

      Yes, they must have approached government with their proposals?

      So lets see, it was either the o&g industry or a combination of both industry and the government wasn’t it?

      So there you have it, by that reasoning, it is the o&g industry and government that are jointly to blame for this and it is they who should pay for it, the protesters are no more than a result of that, its all down to the o&g industry and government by that logic, seems fair to me.

      So Pay up Mr Sajid Javid, and not with tax payers money either, we were excluded by this reasoning, pay for it out of your own pocket my dear chap.

      • “our most treasured and pristine beauty spots” – PhilC – you clearly have not been to Preston New Road or the old missile base at Misson.

        The “process” as you call it is of course driven by our demand. If we didn’t drive cars, heat our homes, use fertiliser, need electricity or the other thousands of things that come from petroleum and natural gas there would not be any demand. But there is, and we like to pay as little as possible. So a supply is needed…….

        • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I suspect, let me see, any place with an o&g site or without one? Thats a tough one! Been to Bury Hill Wood Leith Hill at all have you?
          Losing touch with the cost of policing a little bit here aren’t we?
          Sounds like Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? Why do you have to build a bypass through my home? Answer, its a bypass, you HAVE to build bypasses!
          Sounds about right.

        • Actually the countryside and seaside around the PNR site attracts millions of visitors annually and has done for many years!
          The fresh air and warm welcome is also a key element in the success of the many sporting and open air musical events held on the Fylde Coast!
          All this will of course end if Fracking becomes established!
          Along with the farming and agriculture the Fylde is famous for!

          • No, never been. But don’t need to. The drilling site is an old Bloodhound base is it not? Currently surrounded by industrial premises?

            • Yes an old Bloodhound base with an industrial site trading in ex MOD vehicles to the south. However it is surrounded by prime farmland much of it organic and a significant, highly sensitive SSSI.

            • So what is the problem Jayne? How are is the organic farmland and SSSI going to be impacted by drilling an exploratory well on this location? The answer is that there will not be any impacts, as presumably determined by the various statutory consultees and the Planning Department (otherwise there would not be any Planning Permission). Too much scaremongering being distributed by Enemies of Industry and zealots.

            • Always interested by the origin of the phrases used on behalf of the o&g industry.
              I recognised “Enemies of the Industry and zealots” from somewhere so I looked it up and this was what I saw:

              http://rodmartin.org/anti-fracking-zealots-are-the-enemies-of-humanity/

              Do you guys actually read this reactionary stuff? Looks like something out of Stalinist USSR or heaven forbid, 1930’s Germany?
              I always remember the old first days of computer programming saying:
              Rubbish in, Rubbish out.
              We really must not be so polarised that we can no longer even speak the same language?
              Surely one holocaust was enough?

            • Phil C – the link you posted to Rod Martin (who I have never heard of) is 2014? Catch up please.

              Enemies of Industry = FOE

              Zealots = from my hill walking buddy – zealot ˈzɛlət/ noun noun: zealot; plural noun: zealots

              “a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
              synonyms: fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical, Young Turk, diehard, activist, militant; protestor, protector, anti industry, take us back to the Stone Age….”

            • That was nice, i suspect such things are mind virus’s, such things are called ”memes” these days. I dont read that reactionary stuff normally, but it was something sent to me a while ago to illustrate a point, I’m not responsible for the date or the content, which i found frankly alarming, but similarity in phraseology is something often pointed out to me, i am sure there are more up to date versions, perhaps i will look at one, just to see how far the word virus meme process is progressing, i will have a bucket nearby though. It will be an interesting test just to see how long i can tolerate it.

              Enemies of Industry is EOI surely? FOE is Friends Of the Earth isn’t it? Funny how the FOE being one of the main publicly supported and funded oppositions to the onshore high pressure unconventional fracking and oil and gas extraction technology by the o&g industry is always vilified and lambasted for daring to oppose the industry in these pages? That gets trotted out at every opportunity; i find that quite illuminating, the FOE must really represent a threat that the industry is so desperate to tarnish their name in public debate? Most enlightening.

              There could be other acronyms or abbreviations of course EOE = Enemies Of the Environment? Perhaps EORE = Enemies Of Renewable Energy? What about EOSP, or EOWP? I’ll let you figure those out. Maybe on a less combative note FOF? Friends Of Fracking?

              “anti industry, take us back to the Stone Age….” You must have an o&g dictionary, i could not find this reference, perhaps you made it up? I did find this though which seems to be more historically accurate:

              “Zealot (initial capital letter) a member of a radical, warlike, ardently patriotic group of Jews in Judea, particularly prominent from a.d. 69 to 81, advocating the violent overthrow of Roman rule and vigorously resisting the efforts of the Romans and their supporters to heathenise the Jews.
              c.1300, “member of a militant 1st century Jewish sect which fiercely resisted the Romans in Palestine,” from Late Latin Zelotes, from Greek zelotes “one who is a zealous follower,” from zeloun “to be zealous,” from zelos “zeal” (see zeal ). Extended sense of “a fanatical enthusiast” first recorded 1630s”.

              Doesnt Zealotry apply to the FOF/EORE/EOPE/EOSP/EOWP etc etc as well? I rather like EORE, very A.A.Milne, perhaps for completeness i should add Endemic, then it would be EEORE

              Since we are into the word Zealot which seems to be a popular epithet hereabouts, how about ZOF? or ZOOAG? Zealots Of Oil And Gas?

              You see its just word play isn’t it? And words are double edged swords, they cut both ways. Funny that? Always an education.

      • No protests, no police, no problem! Agree with you 75% of the way……..

        Jog on and get a job??? Actually I did turn down the opportunity to run Cuadrilla’s drilling operations, probably wise as I would no doubt be locked up now.

    • ‘a small group of mostly non-local activists’ seem to be bothering Cuadrilla.

      If the security firm cannot deal with that themselves they are quite within their right to call in the police.

      Cuadrilla must be UK tax payers.

      This was bound to happen. The industry will try and spin it that the anti frackers are costing the tax payers money. It won’t work. The majority of the public do not want this industry and support all efforts to prevent it developing.

      The Government should pay the bill. It is their mistake supporting an industry no one needs or wants.

      The price per therm for producing UK shale is already high. The cost of permanent policing should be added to these costs.

      Maybe this is how they justify their claims of tens of thousands of jobs…… Lots of local police.

    • Recently two UN Special Rapporteurs have condemned the criminalisation of peaceful protest in 16 US States as incompatible with international human rights law. The Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and association is of the opinion that “organizers should not incur any financial charges for the provision of public services during an assembly (such as policing, medical services and other health and safety measures)”. Please see page 15 :http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Opinion/Legislation/OL_USA_3_2017.pdf

  2. Astonishing cost, there would be nothing to pay of course if this unwanted industry had not been foisted upon us in the first place.
    I agree with The Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, who said the government should pay for policing because the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave the go ahead for fracking in the county. Damn right.
    So at the very least Sajid Javid should pay out of central funds, and i mean the whole bill…..(no i wont go there) at the end of the day, The o&g operations are government sponsored sanctioned and driven, so it is really central governments responsibility to pay for it. Then central government can bill Cuadrilla et al for what ever they want or close down the operations, but i am sure that the tax payer will end up with the whole bill….(no, still not going there) at the end of the day.

    Maybe Cuadrilla, Ineos and the others should pay the entire due green tax bill and back charge it too, that is only fair isn’t it? Will that ever happen? Probably not, they will just put another 800% tax on solar energy.

    [Comment corrected at contributor’s suggestion]

    • I agree Phil. If indeed this ‘industry’ is going to save the planet, bring in great wads of cash to the Cons government to spend on public services and create thousands of jobs, then surely they can afford to pay upfront for the police; after all they can just borrow the money from the private pensions they have ‘suggested’ workers buy into so they can keep their little ponzi schemes running…..

      • Hi Sherwulfe, yes its infuriating isn’t it? So many scams in this country, there are few things we can trust except the fellowship and care of communities the honesty and support of friends and families and the growing realisation that its people that matter, not money.
        At the moment it is the tax payer that ends up paying for the greed and corruption at all levels. That is so obvious now, its practically screaming at us to do something about it, even the owned media are panicking, and breaking the imposed silence, hence the war on independent alternative news sources.

        http://desmogblog.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/t/28C10AD35D4FB0CE/AA7B671195A99D3A4936C359EC0425C0

        The attempt to demonise independent alternative news sources with the label “fake news” has been squeezed out to the public with the usual buckets full of pink slime, but that is again just desperation. There is still a way to go yet, but truth is emerging, no amount of suppression and lies will stop that, Memes work both ways, already most people instinctively mistrust the o&g industry and even the most deprived communities see them for what they are.
        So there will be swings and roundabouts yet to come, we will see what emerges from this court case in the next few days, that will either be a positive or a negative, but that will just expose the powers behind the throne and whether such things are still open or not, we will see clearly which of the processes, freedom or suppression is prevelent to ordinary people then.

      • Fascinating talk with Ex CIA Robert David Steele in Oslo regarding the proposed change away from deep state political blackmail towards an open source future costing 10% of the present military industrial complex costs of perpetual war.
        Robert David Steele is an ex Exxon employee.

        Maybe a way out of this present insane descent into the anarchic suicidal system. Worth a listen all the way through.

  3. Imagine if you can the policing requirements were additional Fracking sites were to be started in Lancashire as envisaged by Cuadrilla boss Eagan! Imagine also the fresh water requirements involved! Imagine the number of HGV movements transporting toxic byproducts across the Country!
    The whole concept is flawed from start to finish! We are determined it will not happen!

  4. So we have communities and councils that have said that they do not want this industry in their area. Central government then impose the development on communities. County Councils take money from said communities to pay for policing yet residents cannot get adequate policing where they live. Yet somehow police turn out in considerable force and at high cost to tax payers to facilitate these operation. If it costs this much to police the sites, it makes a complete mockery of the paltry sums on offer as compensation from the operators – £100,000 for a fracked well, £20,000 for a lateral. Insignificant when you add up the cost of County Councils processing the applications and the cost of policing the sites.

  5. Don’t forget the government Are Going to Listen, LISTEN to Local Communities!
    Tell Sajid Javid and make him learn it the old fashioned way!

    The air pollution hasn’t been taken notice of either. This is where we could be grateful to the EU (while we are still in!) because we are not complying with their levels! Thank goodness someone is paying attention and this is before the Fracking really gets going! Across the country.

    I don’t understand why anyone thinks it’s good or we need it!

  6. Wonder if locals were asked if they wanted the Bloodhound base at Misson?? Surely, local democracy should have had the final say? Defence security/energy security-discuss. (Different times, yes. Different weapons, yes. Vlad trying to gain control over Mid. East oil/gas, yes.)

    Trust all this police overtime is being added to the employment statistics regarding the benefits of fracking in the UK. All the lovely taxation and disposable income.

  7. That’s the one I missed. Anger management classes must be getting a real boost.

    I fail to see any concern about the costs. Police are employed to arrest criminals. One every two days, with light touch policing is not bad. Not only overtime but performance bonuses as well.

    And, their tactics will modify as the intelligence improves. Next three months should see the “phoney war” over.

  8. As shown in the above data, the vast majority of offences were under S14 Public Order Act and were simply because the police insisted on keeping everyone contained on the pavement on the opposite side of the road to the site. Anyone who dared to venture across the road, to livestream or provide welfare was likely to be charged. The police are using this to control everyone even though protest, on the part of the protectors, has been peaceful, if occasionally noisy. The intimidating tactics, police outnumbering protectors, unnecessary arrests, denial of slow walks, police escorts for every vehicle visiting the site ( even down to a pick-up truck) and unnecessary closing of the highway in an attempt to annoy local road users and blame protectors is clearly all aimed at goading peaceful people into retaliation. All the injuries, some of them serious and requiring hospital treatment have been to protectors including pensioners and local councillors.
    This data also shows claims by Cuadrilla, in the Telegraph, stating that there had been 12 arrests for death threats to Cuadrilla workers was nothing more than barefaced lies intended to turn the public against anti frackers. The Telegraph later had to retract the article and apologise but of course the mud had already been thrown.

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