policing

Force used at fracking site protests 165 times in 19 days – Lancashire Police

pnr Gathering Place Films

Photo: Still from video by Gathering Place Films

Police officers used force at protests over Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site nearly nine times a day on average in the first half of July, according to data from Lancashire Constabulary.

Figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request show that over 19 days starting on 1 July, officers filed 165 “Use of Force” reports which referred to Preston New Road.

Thames Valley recently said its officers submitted 3,001 reports across its entire area during a period of 91 days from April-June 2017. In Cumbria, the equivalent figure was 2,183 and in Cambridgeshire it was 1,234.

“Use of Force” reports have been mandatory since 1 April 2017 and require police to record each time they use force in the course of their duty. Force could include the use of restraint, handcuffing (for both compliant and non-compliant people), batons, Tasers and irritant sprays.

The police monitoring group, Netpol, which requested the Preston New Road data, urged Lancashire Police to rethink its strategy at the protests before it “became a national issue”.

DrillOrDrop invited Lancashire Police and Cuadrilla to respond to the data. This post will be updated with any comment.

One report of injuries

According to the Preston New Road data, there were no records of the use of irritant spray or Tasers from 1-19 July. But there were two reports of batons being drawn and/or used.

The data also showed there was one record of a person receiving injuries as a result of an officer’s force during the period 1-19 July 2017.

There appear to be no records of injuries sustained by protesters at Preston New Road. But people who have attended the protests regularly since they began in January 2017 have talked about being dragged by police and being “covered in bruises”.

In May, more than 300 people signed a letter to Lancashire’s Chief Constable which complained of police officers behaving “extremely aggressively towards protesters” and an “increasing zero-tolerance attitude to protests”.  DrillOrDrop report

The letter added:

“People have been pushed to the ground and injured or shoved towards the path of busy traffic, with a fundamental lack of care for their safety and the risk or serious or fatal injury.”

At the time, Superintendent Richard Robertshaw, of Lancashire Police, said:

“There are a vast amount of protesters who go about protesting in a peaceful and appropriate way”.

He said “a small minority” were “very aggressive.”

Supt Robertshaw said of his officers:

“They know they’ve got a job to do. They know there are strong feelings. But they will also try to use the absolute minimum amount of force.”

Rolling resistance

The period of the Preston New Road data coincided with the first half of the so-called Rolling Resistance direct action at the site, coordinated by the national campaign group, Reclaim the Power.

That saw at least six weekday protests where anti-fracking campaigners locked themselves together or to objects outside the shale gas site. There were also two blockades of the gates.

Lancashire Police have yet to release data for arrests for July but Reclaim the Power said there had been more than 70 during the whole month.

Reaction

Kevin Blowe, of Netpol, said:

“In May, the senior officer in charge of the policing operation at Preston New Road said protesters were disruptive but not violent. In no way did this change with the start of Reclaim the Power’s month of support for local campaigners in July.

“The snapshot of use-of-force data that our Freedom of Information request has provided reinforces the many complaints of aggressive and confrontational policing that we have documented and local people have tried unsuccessfully to raise with the Chief Constable. As well as confirming the use of batons against nonviolent protests, it points to an average of nine incidents per day when force was used.

“There seems little doubt now that protecting the right to freedom of assembly is low on Lancashire Police’s list of priorities. We urge the Chief Constable to rethink his strategy before the excessive use of force at Preston New Road becomes a national issue.”

Links

FOI response from Lancashire Constabulary

Arrest data from Lancashire Police

 

 

29 replies »

  1. Thanks for the report Ruth.
    It seems escalation towards violence is a deliberate o€$¥£&g and police strategy.
    The reaction then becomes grounds for the excuse to take out the injunction.
    Therefore one could say that police use of force is designed to provoke reaction and the injunction was the purpose from the beginning.
    Typical o€$¥£&g, government and police machinations.
    There is another aspect of this which is interesting to examine, and that is the rentamob factor of deliberately industry planted fracktivists into the protest that react in a programmed way triggered by police “force” to create another form of escalation from within the protest groups.
    That’s an old o€$¥£&g strategy, to own both sides of the action and manipulate the result to achieve the desired result, the being the pre-planned injunction that seeks to crush freedom of speech and protest.
    Not just at the sites, but, as we have all ready seen attempted by certain posters, on this web site too.
    Interesting isn’t it?

    • I’m sure PhilC would agree with you if he was still here. However, can you provide some evidence of the oil and gas industry “owning both sides of the action”?

    • Based on the video evidence, it is surprising that police have had occasion to use force only 165 times. I would think that the count would go into the thousands based on the aggressiveness of protesters. The police have shown unbelievable restraint in the face of this mob of extremists.

      • Based on the video evidence, it is surprising that protesters have had occasion to suffer force only 165 times. I would think that the count would go into the thousands based on the aggressiveness of police. The protesters have shown unbelievable restraint in the face of this mob of extremists.

        • No protesters = no police = no force required.

          If protesters continue to violate the rights of others, they will face increasingly forceful punishment. Comprendez vous, Safety ?

          • No frackers = no protesters = no police “force” required.

            If frackers continue to violate the rights of others, they will face increasingly forceful punishment. Comprendez vous, peeny ?

            Reply

            • I can name dozens of ways that protesters are breaking laws and violating the rights of others. Can you tell me where Cuadrilla has violated the law?

            • Invasion, destruction of the environment, breaking planning regulations, breaking “gold standard” mining regulations, hijacking and corrupting the government, hijacking the civil police into a political enforcement agency to protect a private company. Destruction of democracy, treason…….

          • ever lived near a frack field Fibonacci?..24 hour non stop flaring of gas,LIGHTS,noise and pollution and incredible damage to human and animal health see all the AUSTRALIAN andUSA films on “natural” or unconventional gas extraction?

            • Wow Anna, you sound like a one woman propaganda machine! Filled with fearmongering fabricated stories that can be hyped like there’s no tomorrow.

              FYI, I have a home near several well pads in SE Pennsylvania. I see nothing of what you mention. Who woulda thunk?

  2. Al-these are the people who at first were against Reclaim the Power hijacking the PNR protest, then welcomed it, and are now surprised at what it has produced.

    Not sure you will get any logical response, that ceased a long time ago. Anyone would think all this effort actually produced anything, but rig on site and drilling expected to start by end of month. Days pass, things progress, and people focus elsewhere-reminds me of the Newbury Bypass saga-now a lovely piece of infrastructure reducing pollution dramatically.

    • Al-these are the people who are still against Reclaim the Power hijacking the PNR protest, then contaminated by it, and are now not surprised at what it has produced.

      Not sure you will get any logical response from the anti anti’s, that ceased a long time ago. Anyone would think all this effort actually produced anything, but rig damaged on site by their own actions in order to delay drilling now pushed back to the end of month. Days pass, things don’t progress after years, and more and more people focus right here on drill or drop, which reminds me of the Preese Hall debacle, now a desecrated carbuncle of industrialisation increasing pollution dramatically.

  3. A remarkably restrained police presence, in view of the wall to wall shouting and insults they have to put up with.
    It would be better if protestors understood that you have a right to protest, but there are limits to that.
    Blockading roads, threatening contractors, slow walking, obstruction, social media intimidation and so an are all criminal offenses. That means human rights justifications no longer apply. The INEOS injunction simply backs that up with the threat of stronger actions being possible. There is no way that criminal actions should block what is a properly licenced and legal operation. That would be to give in to anarchy.

  4. I think the police is doing a wonderful job undrr the difficult circumstances. They have to deal with some very difficult protesters to maintain law and orders. The forces if not the techniques they used to remove lock on are appropriate and necessary. If the protesters remove themselves from blocking the road peacefully when instructed by the police then there is no need for the police interventions.

    • I think the protesters doing a wonderful job under the difficult circumstances. They have to deal with some very difficult police to maintain the environment and maintain sanity. The lack of force if not the techniques they use to peacefully lock on are appropriate and necessary. If the frackers remove themselves from blocking the road peacefully when requested by the protesters then there is no need for the protester interventions.

  5. OMG… safteycatch what world do you live in?? 1st you make a stament thats full of as many holes as fishnets… [Edited by moderator]
    Regarding the protesters… Your protesting against fracking… One of the many reasons is is the traffic congestion caused by lorries etc.. Then one of you bright sparks climb on top of a lorry for 3 days or however long.. Causing the problem your suppose to be deffending!? Jst leaves me dumbfounded that you think it makes sense…
    So using this point in paticular.. You sure its not the anti’s trying to making the problems you so need to protest for?? Or was the anti’s lorry top marta a sheep in wolves clothing [Edited by moderator]

    • [Edited by moderator]

      Back to the subject, which is, btw, Force used at fracking site protests 165 times in 19 days – Lancashire Police.
      The whole purpose of these anti anti flurry of invective is to divert attention away from police violence towards protesters.
      That is a deliberate “policy” by the o€$¥£&g industry, the government and the police, to demonise the protest. Protest is growing, and that threatens the industry owned government into “forcing” the police to go as far as breaking the law in order to crush protest.
      That in itself is a contravention of democracy and human rights of protest against an industry which endangers our air, our land, and our water.
      That is unacceptable.
      The use of rentamob and deliberate escalation to violence is all from the industry, the government and the police.
      Most protesters want a peaceful protest, but have been deliberately tarred with the same brush in order to bring about this injunction.
      It is clear that another way has to be found to take protest straight to government, that is where this has come from, and that is where it must be taken as a countywide protest.
      If Paul T wants to boycott haulage contractors, then perhaps that can be used in reverse, boycott organisations that support fracking, not by lock ons and truck surfing, but by financial boycotts of certain organisations that support and finance such organisations.
      Legal and effective, hit them where it hurts, in the wallet.
      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      Here’s a little something to cheer you up,

      Apologies to no one.

      “Life On Mars?”

      It’s a god-awful small affair
      To the May with the mousy hair
      But the people are yelling, “No!”
      And her party has told her to go
      But her friends are nowhere to be seen
      Now she walks through her sunken dream
      To the seat with the narrowest view
      And she’s hooked on the silver stream.

      But the frack is a saddening bore
      For they’ve tried it ten times or more
      She could spit in the eyes of fools
      As they ask her to focus on

      Failures fighting in the dance hall
      Oh man!
      Look at those slavemen go
      It’s the frackiest show
      Take a look at the Lawman
      Beating up the wrong guy
      Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
      He’s in the best selling show
      Is there life on Mars?

      It’s on America’s tortured brow
      That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
      Now the frackers have struck for flame
      ‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
      See the sheep in their million hordes
      From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
      Rule Britannia is out of bounds
      To my mother, my dog, and clowns

      But the frack is a saddening bore
      ‘Cause they tried it ten times or more
      It’s about to be tried again
      As I ask you to focus on

      Failures fighting in the dance hall
      Oh man!
      Look at those slavemen go
      It’s the frackiest show
      Take a look at the Lawman
      Beating up the wrong guy
      Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
      He’s in the best selling show
      Is there life on Mars?

      Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

      [Edited by moderator]

  6. Well this particular post has certainly been the most moderated thus far. Hopefully we can keep things on a level playing field moving fwd as we don’t want to give the vocal minority the false impression they have replaced my side… the silent majority!

  7. Unlikely to happen, GBK. As I filter comments from two(?) antis on this site I find there is very little left to read from that side, and most of that from the Giggle brigade. Perhaps the others have boarded their diesel motors, bought because they were misled by someone else, and gone off on their holidays to quaff their Shiraz with their pork whilst checking the AJLucas share price? (That must be a really educational blog!) Or, they may just have been discouraged by other antis who now clearly have shown their different agenda.

    Lots of rigs on the move, I see. Sign we are coming towards the end of the silly season?

    • It has been a very poor first half of the year for us Martin but there are quite a few juicy things coming up in the 2nd half. Once the current financial bubble pops (which in my opinion is just around the corner) the government will have to be far kinder to the business world once again. Hopefully when parliament returns from the summer Corbychev is linked more and more with his little pal Maduro and the kiddies understand this is actually a bad santa in disguise, I would also like to see May booted asap and replaced with a proper Conservative. The UK will tank unless the left whingers are put back into their rightful place – their cots. I have heard from people all over the world now saying “what the hell has happened to the UK”, images of odd looking people clambering on top of trucks and slow walking along public roads is painting a very bad picture indeed!

  8. Time always has a habit of making today’s major news items fade to very little. If you look at the great crash of the 1930s it looks like a small dip on a graph of the worlds stock markets from today, looking back.

    Corbyn will fade quickly. His hokey kokey approach to Brexit will interfere with process but quickly turn people off. Disguised in the last election, Labour lost most of their working class vote and were supported by a backlash from Remoaners. Whilst he may be “in waiting”, he will be waiting, and waiting, and waiting-by which time Brexit will have happened and their votes will reposition yet again.
    I think May will continue as PM until Brexit has been completed and then a change will be made, well in time before the next election. Because of the numbers not much will be passed by Parliament this term, but it never was going to be, due to Brexit. Some of the major items, such as Social Care, was always supposed to be cross party, so now there is no excuse.

    I remember when the UK was “the sick man of Europe” so, we seem to have made some progress!

  9. UK shale is actually a bit like Brexit. The Government talks big about it and lot of preparation but norhing happens.

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