Lancashire Police face allegations of violence and collusion over fracking site


Photo: Peter Yankowski

Councillors and anti-fracking campaigners have accused Lancashire Police of colluding with Cuadrilla to develop its shale gas site near Blackpool.

There have also been complaints that the force has used “aggressive and inconsistent tactics” against campaigners at anti-fracking protests at the site at Preston New Road.

Similar general allegations have been made since Cuadrilla began work in January. DrillOrDrop report

But they came to a head this week when the company delivered its drilling rig in the early hours of yesterday morning, against planning rules and accompanied by about 50 police officers.

The day before, a national monitoring group published a film in which anti-fracking protesters complained about violence and aggression from the police and a disregard for their human rights.

See also: Backing Fracking backs the police at the bottom of this post

pnr policing 170720 DoD

Photo: DrillOrDrop

“Collusion is a major issue”

Paul Hayhurst, a county councillor for the Fylde, which includes Preston New Road, said:

“Police collusion with Cuadrilla is a major issue”.

In a statement issued yesterday, the company said:

“We decided, following consultation with the Lancashire Police, to take delivery of the rig in the early daylight hours of the morning”.

Cllr Hayhurst said:

 “Cuadrilla, apparently with the consent of the police have ridden roughshod across the planning conditions.

“It seems nonsense that the law enforcement agency is breaking the law. You would have thought it would have been upholding the rules.”

Another Fylde county councillor, Liz Oades, said:

“Mr Egan appeared to suggest that they had the agreement of the police to break planning consent which, if true, is very disappointing and questionable. Surely it must be wrong for the police to encourage unlawful actions. To cite public safety is simply not good enough.

“I know of no other industry which requires 50 police officers to operate in this way and I seriously question the cost of policing, at taxpayers expense, what is, in effect help for a private company.”

Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox, a regular protester against Cuadrilla at Preston New Road, described the delivery as “a very disappointing turn of events”. She said:

“What I keep saying to the police is that this community will never trust you again.

“Whatever happens, whether they frack or don’t frack, the one legacy that is going to come out of this is complete distrust of the police and that saddens me.”


Photo: Peter Yankowski

“Massive amount of police”

She said protesters who had camped on the road outside the site were surrounded by police when the rig was delivered.

“The first thing they know is there’s a massive amount of police arrived very swiftly jumped out of the vans and formed a cordon down the verge surrounding the tent encampment.

“The police were very reluctant to engage with the protesters when they were asked what was happening.

“There was just a wall of police around them. They weren’t allowed to go to the toilet tent. They weren’t allowed to move.

“One of the protesters did ask what was happening and they were told ‘You’ll have to speak to Lancashire County Council in the morning’. Another officer said: ‘Speak to Cuadrilla’. So the impression was that the police had taken orders from Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council.”

Lancashire County Council has since said it was not involved in the decision and is investigating the breach of planning conditions. Lancashire Police made a statement apparently distancing itself from the company:

“As a result of Cuadrilla’s decision to carry out deliveries in the early hours of this morning, a policing operation was put in place to ensure safety and to minimise disruption to the local community, particularly given recent increased protestor activity at the Preston New Road site which is still on-going.”

But Cllr Hayhurst said the county council would find it hard to take action against Cuadrilla because of the police involvement.

“It would look very silly for the council to issue an enforcement notice when the police agreed to the breach of conditions”.

Another county councillor, the Green Party’s Gina Dowding, said:

“There are a lot of people who are outraged by the collusion between the police and Cuadrilla”.

Cllr Cox said:

“We have been putting it to them for months that they are colluding with Cuadrilla and they deny it but I am left with very little doubt now that they are working together.”

DrillOrDrop invited Lancashire Police to respond to these comments but it said it had nothing to add to yesterday’s statement (in full in this DrillOrDrop post).

“Scare tactics”

Lancashire Police have also been accused of trying to dissuade people from taking part in protests.

The police monitoring group, Netpol, published footage this week of protests at Preston New Road and the testimony of campaigners. The group said:

“Lancashire Police is accused of aggressive and inconsistent tactics that has left some local people afraid to exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”

In the film, commissioned from Gathering Place Films, one older woman said she felt safer taking part in a lock-on protest than being at the side of the road, where she had previously been knocked to the ground by an officer.

Kevin Blowe, coordinator of Netpol, said:

“The police always assert that they must strike a balance between the rights of protestors and others. Human rights law is, however, very clear – that balance should always fall in favour of the right to protest unless there is strong evidence for interfering with protesters’ rights.

“Inconvenience or disruption alone are not sufficient reasons for doing so and the senior officer in charge of the operation acknowledges in the film that protesters are not violent.

“There is significant evidence, which this film highlights, that Lancashire Police is therefore completely ignoring its legal responsibilities.”

170703 pnr Kirsten Buus for Reclaim tthe POwer

Photo: Reclaim the Power

Cllr Cox, who took part in a lock-on protest earlier this month, said of the large number of police on duty on the night of the delivery:

“I do think it is a deliberate tactic by the police to basically scare protesters.

“The fact that it has taken so many police in the middle of the night for four protesters. It looks to me like a deliberate scare tactic – that they are wanting to come down heavy.”

She said:

“I’ve had people come to me locally and say ‘I support the anti-frackers. I want to go and protest. But I am terrified’.”

She said a calm sit-down protest earlier this week ended in violence. Asked to give examples, she said:

“The way you are ripped apart from each other, you’re dragged. I don’t know one person who’s not covered in bruises. You’re shouted at, screamed at, you’re told to move.

“I’ve never been a massive cheerleader for the police but I’ve never been anti either. Many people similar to me, in the same demographic, a certain age, level of education and lifestyle, we’ve always had a healthy scepticism. But now we all say the same thing. Our views of authority have completely shifted. Completely done an about-turn.”

DrillOrDrop invited Lancashire Police to respond to the film. A spokesperson said it was not something the force would comment on.

Link to film

Backing Fracking backs the police

A group supporting shale gas issued a press release this morning in which it said 351 people in the county had signed a letter to the Chief Constable praising officers policing of the fracking protests.

Backing Fracking said of the letter, organised by Brent Crossley, of Blackpool,

“It pays special tribute to those officers that attend the shale gas site where site on the main A583 Preston New Road at Little Plumpton every day where, in the face of extreme provocation and unnecessary abuse from national anti-fracking activists, they somehow manage to behave with impeccable professionalism, dignity and restraint as they try to facilitate people’s right to lawful protest whilst also maintaining public order and allowing Cuadrilla and its contractors to go about their legitimate business.”

Brent Crossley

Brent Crossley delivering his letter to Kirkham Police Station. Photo: Backing Fracking

Mr Crossley is quoted as saying:

“Anyone that has driven past the site, or followed events in the local media, will be very well aware that national activists have shown scant regard for the law or the rights of people trying to use the A583 to get to work or school. All of this has diverted valuable police resources from more important duties and cost the decent, hard-working Council Tax payers of Lancashire a lot of money.

“But it was seeing the daily abuse that officers receive that made me think of organising a jointly signed letter to the Chief Constable. I knew I couldn’t be the only resident appalled by the treatment police officers on the fracking front line have had to put up with – ordinary men and women that live amongst us in our communities when they’re not in uniform – and decided to do something about it.

“The response has been amazing, and shows that the police are fully supported by the vast majority of law abiding people who, regardless of their views on fracking, just want these activists to stop wilfully breaking the law and wasting everyone’s time and money.

“People are just fed up of it all now. Since the start of the year, activists have forced the closure of the A583 far too many times. I think most residents support the right of genuinely local campaigners to hold peaceful demonstrations at the site, drawing attention to their cause with banners and placards, but not the behaviour we’ve seen from national activists. There is no justification for blocking a public highway they way they do.

“We now know that the drilling rig has been delivered to site, which the activists wanted to prevent, and so their month of direct action hasn’t inconvenienced Cuadrilla, just residents and road users. It’s time they packed up and stopped causing unnecessary confrontations with the police who are just there to do a job.”

39 replies »

  1. I accuse the anti frackers of illegal protesting activity, being a general nuisance, blighting the local community, shouting abuse at anyone that does not support their failed campaign, and having terrible fashion sense. Can we get that up as an article please ?

      • GottaG! New id? GottaG string to your bow?

        Errr, not the police pushing and shoving? My dear little peeny, look at the videos, the police and the private barmy army are the ONLY ones doing the pushing and shoving!
        But of course you know that, its just a little Game of Thorns to play isn’t it?

    • This story is hilarious. Paul Hayhurst is an unbearable windbag. Does anyone take the man seriously? Sorry if he is related to you, Ruth, but you will understand.

      Take these protesters and put them in a pen where they can wave signs and protest until the cows come home. Just don’t let them out of the pen if they’re going to protest. It’s really simple. This will keep them from blatantly violating other peoples’ rights. It is absurd that the police allow them to continue as they have.

    • I accuse the frackers of illegal fracking activity, being a general nuisance, blighting the local community, shouting abuse at anyone that does not support their failed campaign, and posting dangerously gross barely literate nonsense. Can we get that up as an article please ?

    • This poster is hilarious. Fibber is an unbearable windbag. Does anyone take the man seriously? Sorry if he is related to Paul T and GBH and about 10 other fake ID’s but you will understand.

      Take these frackers and put them in a razor wire cage (oh, we all ready have) where they can steal road signs and post arrant nonsense until hell freezes over. Just don’t let them out of the razor wire cages if they’re going to post rubbish like this. It’s really simple. This will keep them from blatantly violating other peoples’ rights. It is absurd that the police allow them to continue as they have.

        • Well you either laugh or cry? I prefer a giggle! And what comedic material! Just a gift isn’t it? Luck and Flaw would have a field day!
          Oops! that’s a word play temptation I must resist!

  2. I do not think the police can be praised for facilitating Cuadrilla to breach planning conditions under any circumstances.

  3. I was just about to say, wow a smartly dressed protestor then realised he is on my side. Cheers Brent, good work. RTP is a basket case guerilla group funded by dubious sources, government should shut them down.

    • This strange fashionista fascination with clothing peeny? The latest fad? Or fashion? We are all born naked peeny, clothes were for keeping warm after the last ice age and only became a status symbol to those who need to display or conceal, like feathers and fur. It is fascinating that an anonymous multi id poster is obsessed by appearance, which is the very thing he will not do? Now there is a contradiction? That reveals more than conceals, and conceals more than displays, fascinating! The naked ape has no fur or feathers, and clothes are now mostly emulating fur and feathers in disguise? For some, it seems, clothes has become little more than a display on a fashion dummy? Soon to be seen on the frackwalk with a few scraps of precariously draped fur and feathers strutting their stuff up and down for the best dressed Fracker Of The Bore? Or is that the best concealed Bore Of The Fracker? Blue, Yellow and Black are soooo last year don’t you think darling?

      Cheers RTP, Good work. Cllr Paul Hayhurst, Fylde county councillor, Liz Oades, Kirkham Town Councillor Miranda Cox,and Green Party’s Gina Dowding.
      Brent Crossley from Backing Fracking (BF?). That paragon of unbiased balance sanity and erudition?
      The police have a difficult job, being hired out for free, except to the council tax payer, as government lackies to a private invader cant be easy, but simpering sycophancy trying to drive a wedge between them and the public? That is hardly what they need or want, what they need and want is to remain impartially independent of a corrupt government and invading private desecrators treating them like a pet private security force when that is outside their declared non political charter remit.
      Cuadrilla is a basket case guerilla mob (Cuaguerilladrilla?) funded by dubious sources, a new government and the people of this country will shut them down and kick them out.
      Then we can return to a truly renewable intelligent energy future and return the police to their respected position in the community.

  4. It Appears The Majority Don’t Want Fracking….. Really, it seems that no one can say without a doubt that fracking is safe,
    the Police are stuck in the middle, it’s a shame they colluded with Quadrilla, they should have told the council they were breaking the rules, it was a bit snidey that, there is way too much risk to our water supply, all that toxic water, billions of gallons, where is it supposed to go? where will it be dumped?, where is it going to come from in the first place, if we here in Lancashire have a few weeks of a dry spell, we get a hosepipe ban, but i guess all the pro frackers will spit their dummies out only when it affects them, when they start getting symptoms, there is plenty of proof on social media that fracking is bad, its even Banned in several countries…. WHY? If It’s So Good?.
    The Police are Supposed to be on our side, when they are all up in court for their actions, they will probably say they were just following orders…… nah that will never happen, they cover their tracks too well 🙂



  5. I really was expecting something a little more “out of the box” after the latest set back to the antis. But no, as per losing court cases, having ASA come down on their claims like a tonne of bricks etc. etc., all we get is the “Infamy, infamy-they have all got it in for me” repetition. Carry on Cuadrilla!

    Going to be interesting when the media start investigating the national activists, their methods, objectives and funding, who have taken over the protest. Take a lot of lemon drizzle cake to divert attention then.

    • Simple enough martin, no poisonous invading desecrators’ no protest required, no high jacking our police? Problem solved! Some real Dunkirk spirit foiling the invaders fevered insane dream of conquest and subjugation.
      Close the door on your way out

  6. So somebody actually used their brains and the police acted to minimise local disruption. Good on them.

    What it absolutely does show is that the disruption to the local community is being created by the activists. The planning system in this instance, the system designed to reduce local disruption, is being preyed on by the activists to actually maximise disruption. That is the perversion.

    Everyone knows they wanted to use the planning system to maximise local economic damage and stress. They wanted to look at the documents, predict when the rig could and could not arrive, and plan out blocking the local roads accordingly. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has ended up with a much better result and a result exactly in line with that the planning system was supposed to produce.

    When the planning system is being used by activists to predict when they can cause maximum harm then it is not achieving what it is designed to do and is not fit for purpose.

    • Good point. The nice move achieved the exact result that the planning conditions were aiming for. To minimize the disruption to local commuters. Well done the police the drivers the planners.

    • When the police connive with an invading force to break the law, its time for the council tax payer to consider whether their hard earned money is spent in the interests of keeping the peace and unbiased law enforcement or only to act as a private security force for a private desecrator and invader?

    • The police should have advised Cuadrilla that there action would be unlawful, therefore they must return to the planning department for permission to change the traffic plan. By supporting Cuadrilla’s action they themselves have been drawn into an unlawful action and should face an inquiry.

    • So somebody should actually use their brains and the police should act to minimise local disruption caused by fracking. Good work for the police, better than arresting tax payers and councillors.

      What it absolutely does show is that the disruption to the local community is being created by the fracktivists. The planning system in this instance, the system designed to reduce local disruption, is being preyed on by the fracktivists and government to actually maximise disruption. That is the perversion.

      Nobody is under any illusion that the o£$&g corporations wanted to use the planning system to maximise local economic damage and stress. They wanted to look at the documents, predict when the rig could and could not arrive, and plan out illegal delivery along the local roads accordingly by co-opting the police into an illegal act. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has ended up with a much worse result and a result blatantly contravening the planning conditions and the legal status of the police that were supposed to prevent such actions.

      When the planning system is being used by fracktivists to predict when they can cause maximum harm then it is not achieving what it is designed to do and is not fit for purpose.

  7. It appears that these councillors are very much in favour of lock on protesting methods and have no concerns for the disruption to local commuters. If the rig was to be delivered un the morning the protesters will block the road and cause chaos and dangerous situation for both the drivers the protesters and the police. They should thanks the police for their works and facilitate a better alternative resolution that help both sides ie. no disruption to traffic or residence and less confrontation that cause the police and drivers a lot of stresses. So what are they complaining about. All bs from them.

    • Illegal is illegal, for our own police force to be a party to that, it makes them just as culpable, perhaps the council will reconsider the police remit in this respect and demand a written explanation why they connived to break the law”
      Somewhat hypocritical for the anti anti’s to suddenly praise the breaking of the law just because it suits them, when its al been crowing about the sacred rule of law previously?

  8. It’s interesting to see that the petition calling for LCC to ” Enforce Planning Conditions in Lancashire” already has, after less than 24hours, 5 times as many signatures as Brent Cross’s sycophantic letter to the police managed after 2 weeks. The Brent Cross / Backing Fracking letter only managed to get signatures from a third of their own Facebook page likers, even after it was spammed to local social media groups by people trying to pretend it wasn’t a pro-fracking initiative. It was really rather another poor showing wasn’t it?

  9. Yours is bigger than his, refracktion? Even my kids have grown up and done away with that. I do blame the parents-“we said no, and we mean no” was one used by my two sons many moons ago to collude against doing their homework. They soon found out it had been referred to a higher authority (Dad), and the decision was taken for them and the potential penalties were not worth their while. Living in the Democratic Republic of Dad had rewards and (a few) rules. Just takes a while longer these days for people to grow up.

    Back so soon? Thought you might still be licking wounds after the ill-judged comments about how Cuadrilla would be further delayed in starting drilling. Outfracked, sorry outflanked, again. Those Trojan horses have a habit of depositing muck (organic) all over the unwary.
    Every football supporter knows a team is most vulnerable when it has just scored!

    As for the crane issue, well not going to be a problem is it, when one of the largest industrialists in UK could be asked to speak to a contractor or two, if push came to lift?

  10. They haven’t started drilling yet Martin, and yes ours is much much bigger than Brent’s (nearly 2,000 now – must be because we have so much more public support than the pro-frackers I imagine 🙂 ).

    By the way wasn’t it you who was forecasting a huge jump in the AJL share price after Thursday?

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