Officers from outside Lancashire to join policing of Cuadrilla’s fracking site

Preston New Road 170403 Cheryl Atkinson 2

Photo: Cheryl Atkinson

Policing of protests at Cuadrilla’s Lancashire shale gas site will use officers from other parts of the UK, as well as the local force, from next week.

More officers are likely to be on duty from Monday and policing at the site at Preston New Road Road near Blackpool will become 24-hours a day.

The news emerged in a message from the community organisation, Roseacre Awareness Group.

Its chairman, James Nisbet, said he’d been told about the policing changes in a phone call from Lancashire Constabulary yesterday evening.

Mr Nisbet said he’d been informed that that the so-called police mutual aid system would begin on Monday. This is where one force provides policing assistance to another. It is usually in response – or anticipation – of a major incident.

The system was used in 2013 in policing at protests outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe in West Sussex and outside the IGas site at Barton Moss in Salford (2013-2014). This would be the first time mutual aid had been used at Preston New Road.

Lancashire officers have been policing protests at Preston New Road on week days since Cuadrilla began work began at the site more than 26 weeks ago in January.

Mr Nisbet said he’d been told the changes would mean:

  • Increased police presence at the site each day
  • Police from other forces would be present, possibly in slightly different uniforms
  • Police presence at the site 24 hours a day.

Mr Nisbet said Lancashire Police had told him the new arrangements were being introduced because of the increased activity at the site following the Reclaim the Power Rolling Resistance protest, expected to continue throughout July. Mutual aid would also allow Lancashire police resources to be redeployed to other policing operations, the force told him.

Anti-fracking campaigners have described the changes as intimidatory. The Lancashire force has already been accused of disproportionate and aggressive tactics. DrillOrDrop report.

“Urgent review of protest policing guidelines”

News of the mutual aid arrangements coincided with a call by the Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor, for a review of policing guidelines for oil and gas protests following reports of violence at blockades in the past week.

A video (see below) showed a woman protester apparently being thrown to the ground by a police officer at a demonstration outside the supply depot of Marriott Drilling near Chesterfield in Derbyshire on 30 June. Lancashire Police confirmed they were investigating a complaint that a security guard assaulted a protester at Preston New Road. DrillOrDrop report

Mr Taylor said he had written to the National Police Chief Council asking for an update on protest policing guidelines. Link to letter

He said:

“The photos and videos coming out from the recent protests in Derbyshire and Lancashire are incredibly concerning. It’s shocking that apparently peaceful demonstrators have suffered such violence while exercising their democratic freedom to protest.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that political pressure is being brought to bear on police forces to act as the legal enforcers in a drilling debate the government is losing. The Government is in danger of allowing industry interests to undermine our fundamental freedoms.

“If local residents are beginning to question whether officers are working to protect them or just the interests of the oil and gas industry the notion of consent has broken down – and trust must be repaired.”

The Green Party peer, Baroness Jones, said she would be writing to Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner about concerns that the county’s force was not allowing people to protest at Preston New Road.

Baroness Jones tweet

Lancashire policing costs

In April, the Government refused a request by Mr Grunshaw for extra funds to police anti-fracking protests in Lancashire.

Mr Grunshaw warned the costs would be upwards of £450,000 per month. But the policing minister said there was “no central Government funding stream available to meet the policing costs incurred as a result of fracking”.

Clive Grunshaw Lancs pcc

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner meeting anti-fracking campaigners at Preston New Road. Photo: Lancashire PCC

The minister added that Lancashire could apply for special grant funding only when costs reached more than 1% of the PCC’s budget. This would be after the force had spent at least £2.6m, expected to be incurred in just under six months at the estimated spending rate.

Lancashire will have to pay the costs of officers from other forces under mutual aid. National policing guidance suggested there would be funding available:

“Recent experience has shown there are circumstances where the provision of mutual aid exceeds the capacity of the host force to fund the associated costs. In these cases a bid may be made to the Home Office for a Special Police Grant, which would be considered by the Home Office and Ministers.”

117 replies »

  1. Funny how the government can find £450,000 per month to bring in extra police yet say that they have no extra monies to fund the NHS.

    • The Council Tax payers of Lancashire are footing the bill for this stupid protest, let development proceed & it will deliver inexpensive gas to the 8 out of 10 UK households dependent on gas.

  2. So much emphasis on a couple of incidents where possibly things have gone wrong. What about the constant abuse, intimidation, harassment, non cooperation, thuggish and threatening behaviour from protesters, the bulk of whom are from outside of Lancashire?

    The livestreams show appalling and shameful behaviour from people ‘protecting the planet’ while they abuse the freedom of others. This is anarchy, and should be stopped.

    • It is the right of the individual to protest peacefully in the UK. It is the law. The security guard in the video clearly exceeded his parameters. The law will take its course.

      I am amazed that some people on this blog really believe the protesters will go away and stop ‘bothering’ the drilling companies and their suppliers. Whether they are local, from the rest of the UK or beyond, clearly there is great belief in their conviction to stop the industry for many good reasons. They will not be bullied out.

      ‘If you do nothing, you get nothing’ Aung San Suu Kyi

      • Of course all have a right to PEACEFUL protest. That is not what is happening at PNR. Its threatening, intimidatory, and shameful.
        There is NO RIGHT to block the entrance, to lock on. Its illegal, as is preventing people going about a lawful and licenced activity.
        There is NO RIGHT to threaten workers, or local farmers, and there are many documented cases of that.

        Natural gas is needed in this country for decades, as the idea that we can live off renewables doesnt stack up in the real world. Should we use our own safely produced lowest emissions gas? Or get it from terrorists in Qatar, or warmongering Russia? Oh and we are getting increasing amounts from Russia, as this contract from Centrica shows.

        • Anon = “the bulk of whom are from outside of Lancashire?” Get a grip, or better still get down to PNR so you can see what twaddle that statement is. Where do YOU live?

          Er… so Centrica want it both ways my anonymous chum – they have a 40% interest in Cuadrilla’s licence area if I recall correctly and they hedge their bets by buying gas from Russia – shouldn’t you be protesting outside their offices if you find buying foreign gas so awful? In fact that is just one more example of why we DON’T need to frack for expensive UK gas.

          I applaud your concern for human rights and expect to also see you protesting outside BAe in Warton demanding that they stop selling war planes to regimes with questionable human rights records. Of course we won’t know it’s you will we as you don’t have the courage to say who you are.

          • In actual terms, the increase in gas via Gazprom is only •3%, this is part of the agreed contract and is included in the existing contract of supply.
            You are being very disingenuous with your statement

          • Love it when “Refracktion” attempts to belittle others by calling them “anonymous chum” and the like! To me this embodies all the true spirit of anti-fracktism and ties it up in a neat little bow. You see, they believe that their way is the “right” way and thus they have the right to impose their moral agenda upon the rest of us. They are so blinded by their zealotry, however, that they cannot see that they are often guilty of the same of offenses for which they condemn others.

            • [Edited by moderator]
              What I find funniest with your posts is the way you try to wrap everything up with a next little bow but instead tie yourself up in knots with your tenuous reframing of everybody else’s ideas and positions

            • Refracktionary, [Edited by moderator] We know we are winning and that the facts are on our side. You don’t have a coherent, practical energy plan, and your criticisms of fracking translate into thinly veiled NIMBYism. Go on spinning your stories and organizing your little protests, it makes you feel productive and keeps you out of other trouble. I am glad you are losing – it means a lot to the UK that you do.

        • Anon, I think you will find your article a little out of date…..things have moved on; Centrica have a new direction.
          It’s funny how anti antis still go back to trade with Russia and the Middle East and it’s problems (increasingly enlightening to realise the UK also is not the moral high ground it suggests it is…); all of this when Norway is ready to trade up – perhaps we don’t have anything to sell to Norway?

      • Give it a rest Sher, your side are the ones that carry out the illegal nosense constantly. You’re lucky you don’t live in other parts of the world.

    • [Edited by moderator]

      should respect not be given to those who give up lives of so called normality to travel where they feel directed to protect innocent Communities and their Countryside from devastation brought about by greed and corruption?

      As a family man whose world has been turned upside down and threatened by this heartless Tory Government I am grateful for all the help we can get to STOP the evil Frackers!

      Can you not see that the world is turning against greed and corruption but in favour of forward thinking Environmental conservation?

      [Edited by moderator]

      • So what you are saying is that you hate the Tories (it was Labour that issued licenses BTW) so you will believe made up stories of death and destruction that have no evidence?

        What has shale gas got to do with greed? They would like to make money, like any other business
        /company. Does that mean you are an anti capitalist and as you cannot get anyone to demonstrate against Tesco or ASDA, you will vent your spleen on shale gas companies?

        • I don’t think Tesco or ASDA intend to wipe a whole community of people and livestock in the name of Corporate greed!
          The corrupt Tory government and their greedy overseas corp backers fully intend this!
          Exactly where are you from and who’s paying you please!
          Tell the truth and I may respect your opinions if you are local t a Fracking Zone and not employed by the industry directly or indirectly!
          Otherwise jog right off!

    • “What about the constant abuse, intimidation, harassment, non cooperation, thuggish and threatening behaviour from protesters, the bulk of whom are from outside of Lancashire?”

      That’s what the Telegraph reported after accepting the word of Cuadrilla. The newspaper had to subsequently print a large apology because, as confirmed by the police authorities, it wasn’t true.

    • and how do you propose people demonstrate. It’s telling that you are more upset about manners than the destruction of our planet.

  3. It would be much cheaper to train the police in emissions and pollution monitoring and how to ensure Cuadrilla is following gold standard guidelines to the letter. That would give the people real confidence that they are on their side and I’m sure at least half of the protesters would go home if that was the case.

    • [Edited by moderator] Suggesting police be trained in emissions and pollution monitoring- their job is to maintain civil obedience and fairness to all parties [edited by moderator]

    • Nice idea Philip but I don’t think the Police officers union would authorize their presence anywhere near a Fracking site once the 24 hour flaring starts up! My family and I certainly won’t be!

    • Philip P, this is the most rational and honest post I have read from you. I think there is hope for you yet. You are correct, and the hard core anti-frack anti-capitalists know it, and it scares them to death. Once the fracking is done and people see that nothing around them has changed (as in the case of the other 200 wells fracked in the UK (and approximately 1.5 million in the US)), the air is still clean and so is the water (outside the high amounts of farm chemicals found there) there will be nothing left to protest. This is good news for you and many others, but bad news for those who feel a never-ending compunction to protest something. They will have to move on to another cause! Perhaps protesting the needless slaughter of mosquitoes in Mozambique, or something along those lines.

  4. Did the woman in the video must have played football for the Italian team or what. A very well executed theatrical dive from her to milk a professional fault from the defending police officer.

    • How was it a professional fault from the police officer TW? He asked the protesters on at least 3 occasions to get out of the way of the truck, maybe you can enlighten me of his fault by his actions.

      These protesters are anything but peaceful, but most certainly are a rabble.

    • Do you watch Seria A football league? Using football analogy I meant professional foul taking a dive in the penalty area to claim a professional foul from the defender. The Italian players are very good at these divers and very theatrical. I guess the women in the video wasn’t as good as the Italian players.

      • So you are accusing the “defending police officer” of committing a professional foul TW? Priceless! 😂

        • You are taking a theatrical dive here too refracktion. Milking a professional foul from me???? Nice try but you must work harder.

  5. So, the police react to increased activity around PNR by increasingly aggressive groups? Now, isn’t that a surprise!

    If the antis can not control their operations then the police will. All the talk about peaceful protest is a smokescreen, the law is being broken repeatedly (hence the arrests) so the police are required to act to stop that. I would have thought the recent footage from Hamburg demonstrates how easy it is for a protest to be taken over by individuals who have a more aggressive intention. The police will have intelligence indicating what they feel may develop and will act accordingly.

    Looking at this site, it is quite easy to detect the increased aggressiveness amongst some but I expect the police have a much wider network of intelligence than DOD.

    • Martin – it’s interesting that you bring up Hamburg as it demonstrates very clearly the difference between a violent riot and the relatively peaceful protest that we can see at Preston New Road. I say relatively because the behaviour of some of the security guards and the police, and a small number of protestors does sometimes spill over into the unacceptable.

      We do not however see petrol bombs and running battles down at Preston New Road and that protest has now been going on for 6 months not 3 days.

      Trying to suggest that the protest at PNR is anything like the Hamburg riots is desperate even for you.

  6. Refracktion. You must have comprehensive skill of a five years old child. Read my post again. It said the woman was taking a theatrical dive to milk a penalty. You probably never have watched football.

    • Er… no TW – you wrote “to milk a professional fault from the defending police officer.” not “milk a penalty”. Try to keep up with your own posts at least.

      • Same things and same meaning. Taking a dive to milk something is an expression in football to say you are faking it.

        • Er no but it was a silly analogy in the first place TW so let’s not waste more time on it 😉

  7. The anti-frackers should be aware that 8 out of 10 homes in the UK are heated by gas (8 out of 10); North Sea gas is running out and we will have to buy it from Qatar or Russia. Will the anti-frackers protest about the high prices then? It is better that the UK controls the extraction than less regulated countries.

    • Why will we have to buy it from Qatar or Russia? Are we not going to be allowed to buy cheap gas from USA, Australia, Africa or South America then? Please explain why you think we have to buy it from those 2 places. And it will still be cheaper than the can extract it for here according to the published forecasts, unless you can provide other evidence than that which we have discussed here on numerous occasions.

  8. This 2014 documentary still holds up very well. Besides addressing the key controversial issues it offers especially good angles (I believe) on the roots of the conflict between the community and the authorities. Also remarkable is how accurately the lead ‘granny’ activist Tina Rothery, within the space of a few sentences, describes the hvhf processes that will be employed, and the issues the area will be facing due to those processes (more informative than any of the disclosures by ‘pro fracking ‘experts’ that inhabit these threads). Fact checking some of the other points showed nothing untoward. From my calculations, based on readily available knowledge, the 3000 odd wells predicted by Mike Hill was also accurate and could not be claimed to be scare mongering (though they wouldn’t be happening all at once of course). Lord Browne has moved on from Riverstone btw.

    • 2nd time lucky with the meme Paul – well done. You are generally more credible here when you try to attack the argument rather than the messengers. #justsayin’

      • Refracktion: “You are generally more credible here when you try to attack the argument rather than the messengers. #justsayin’”

        Did anyone else get a hearty laugh after reading this priceless gem from none other than our anonymous little chum, Refracktion?

        • Except my anonymous little pal I’m not anonymous – my name is John Hobson – come on – what’s your name? You aren’t scared to tell us are you?

        • And I thought Paul was maybe just being satirical about the fact that Lancashire had to get rid of the police helicopter Raga 😉

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