Legal

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. It is sometimes interesting to consider, not just who we are talking to, even with the obvious multiple id’s that are not even denied anymore, but also what we are talking to.
    Look at any blogs on any subject are, at present, under the most concerted attacks. This has accelerated now, to almost drowning out anyone who has something positive to say. Some sites without moderation, except by the writer, have ceased to post, mainly because of the endless torrents of abuse, much of it foul beyond imagining.
    This appears to be a concerted strategy. There are opinions that the big digital corporations, various, if not all governments and pressure groups are using professional (paid for) troll agencies and associated AI programs that have minimal human interaction emulating aspects that appear human, until they are asked to validate claims. The program, unless monitored by a human host, has no consciousness and no individual intelligence, it is simply a response/attack engine. Any programmed reply, either refuses to answer, or triggers another ID that can, human or not.
    To speculate why this is rife at the present may indicate many things, from simple learning response learning and self programming capabilities, the blogs being used to enhance and disguise the program function. They may also be used as an attempt to crush and discourage free and open debate, any debate, since consensus of opinions on any subject is dangerous to a control agency of whatever agenda. Another aspect could be to redirect and divert dangerous debate into safer personal and egoic issues, which then highjack the original subject and everything descends into personal abuse and hate mail. It is noticeable that such agencies are adept in personal abuse, but never answer anything technical.
    Question? Do you see any evidence of that sort of behaviour here?
    Maybe, when you see a torrent of personal attack, rather than replying to the subject, or lots of such attacks interwoven into such posts, maybe consider, not who you are responding to, but perhaps what you are responding to?

    • I think we can say with some certainty that nobody would waste time programming a bot to post Peeny, Malc or Martin’s content 😉

    • TW – It seems very weird that this is supposed to have happened in May but we only get to hear of it now. Of course they will have CCTV footage of the site so it won’t be long before we learn who was in fact responsible, and why it has taken so long for this news to get out. Given that the entire anti-fracking movement has been on tenterhooks for weeks waiting for the arrival of a rig that they are supposed to have destroyed it all sounds very dodgy indeed to me, but I’m sure Cuadrilla will have a convincing explanation ….

    • Yes it is turning into a form of terrorism. The protesters are trying to intimidate and put fear into the minds of those with whom they disagree. They talk about risks of shale gas extraction and then vandalise machinery possibly putting ordinary working folk in danger from damaged equipment. This sort of protest is getting nasty and needs to stop before someone gets seriously hurt. Madness.

      [Moderator:] At this point (12/7) it is not clear who vandalised the equipment and no evidence that they have any links to the main protest movements [\moderator]

      • I am sorry Shale Watcher but you need to be careful about your accusations. I’m sure the police are involved in this investigation and will release the facts when they deem it time. Deformation of a group of people without evidence is controversial at best. [Edited by moderator]

  2. You can’t just tar all protestors with the same brush Shale Watcher. Labeling is convenient but a very lame form of debate. For your assumptions to have any weight you’d have to have a lot of inside information. Probably a lone wolf action.

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