The Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire is seeking assurances from the Government that it will contribute to the costs of policing anti-fracking protests in the county.
Julia Mulligan was speaking yesterday as the latest figures were released, showing that the North Yorkshire force spent £101,476 on the protests at Kirby Misperton in September. The cost for the period up to 31 August 2017 was £80,238.
Third Energy began deliveries to the Kirby Misperton site in mid-September. It has told Yorkshire County Council is expects to begin fracking on or after tomorrow (Thursday 25 October).
The policing costs cover police officer overtime, equipment, subsistence and travel costs. They do not include the cost of officers assigned to policing the site on a day-to-day basis, which would have occurred whether or not there was a protest, the police said.
Ms Mullligan said:
“North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to ensure the force is able to deal with events such as policing protests. Above and beyond our usual budgeting there are also reserves earmarked for any major incidents that arise during the course of the year.
“However, should the cost of the operation increase to over one percent of the total policing budget in North Yorkshire, the government holds a fund to assist local forces. I am seeking reassurance from the Government that money from this fund will be available, should it be needed.”
Ms Mulligan said she had put the policing operation at Kirby Misperton, known as Operation Kingfisher, as a regular item on the agenda of her monthly Public Accountability Meetings, which can be watched online.
“Operation Kingfisher is a significant resourcing challenge, so it is likely to have an impact on policing across the rest of the county, but I know the Chief Constable is committed to keeping that impact as minimal as possible.
“I am confident that the force has prepared very well for Operation Kingfisher, and for extra reassurance, as well as having a ‘gold’ commander for the fracking operation itself, a second Chief Officer has been given responsibility for ensuring the wider service is maintained as far as is possible.”
Superintendent Alisdair Dey said of the operation:
“It’s a significant challenge to balance the rights, needs and wishes of all parties involved in this issue. That includes the right of people to assemble and protest peacefully, balanced against the right of local people to go about their daily lives safely and without disruption.
Opponents of Third Energy’s work at Kirby Misperton have criticised the level of policing at the protest and some of the police behaviour.
On Monday (23 October 20117), Kirby Misperton Protection Camp said two people needed hospital treatment after contact with police while they attempted to take part in a lock-on protest.
The group said:
“Direct actions, such as lock-ons, work because our civilised society dictates that peaceful people deserve peaceful treatment. We implore North Yorkshire Police to respect our democratic opposition to fracking and our Human Right to protest, which includes legitimate disruption.”
In a statement, Superintendent Dey said:
“We always respond proportionately to any protest activity. That means at times there will be an increase in the number of police officers in Kirby Misperton. They are there to uphold everyone’s rights under the law and to protect people from harm.”
- North Yorkshire Police also revealed 26 people had been arrested in September. Two were released without further action and two accepted cautions. The remaining 22 have been charged with offences including obstructing the highway and obstructing or assaulting a police officer.
- The cost of policing protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road in Lancashire were £355,649 in September. Link to details