The Green Party’s MEP for south east England has called for review of guidance given to police at anti-drilling protests in Sussex.
Keith Taylor was speaking after officers prevented a campaigner carrying out a so-called slow-walking protest at UK Oil & Gas’s Broadford Bridge oil exploration site near Billingshurst.
The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was filmed being removed from the road. She said:
“Being forcibly and aggressively shoved off the road as I was, without warning, was a shocking denial of my right to protest. It was nothing short of thuggish behaviour.”
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, had previously said officers would allow protesters to obstruct vehicles delivering to the site in some circumstances. Link to letter
Mr Taylor, who has called for a national review of guidance to police officers at anti-fracking protests, said:
“I’m now renewing my call for the Sussex PCC to undertake a similar review. I’m also calling on Sussex Police to communicate more clearly and more consistently with residents and campaigners on the ground.”
Speaking after a visit to Broadford Bridge yesterday, Mr Taylor said:
“It’s clear from the footage sent to me by campaigners that more needs to be done, and urgently, to restore the balance between the campaigners’ democratic right to protest and the oil firm’s right to carry out its legal, if destructive, business.
“The right balance should speak directly to the values underpinning British democracy.
“It’s worth remembering that, in the UK, police forces work on the fundamental principle of consent.
“If residents and protesters fear that officers are working solely to protect the interests of the oil and gas industry, not them and their democratic right to protest, then there is no consent – and trust must be repaired.”