Protest policing at Lancashire fracking site has “irreparably damaged community relations”, senior officer told

10th Mar 2017 (20 police line up)

Police outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, 10 March 2017.

Regular protesters at Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool have told Lancashire Police they no longer have any confidence in the force or its procedures.

Speaking at a regular police liaison meeting this evening, they said:

“We conclude community relations have been irreparably damaged and a whole section of residents will never regain trust in the Police. This is a damning legacy”.

They handed a letter, signed by 16 people, to a senior officer, complaining that they had been subjected to “unprofessional comments, provocative behaviour and physical aggression” by officers.

They told the local commander, Chief Inspector Keith Ogle, that some officers at the protests had caused concussion, cuts, bruising, torn ligaments and broken bones through poor handling, aggressive shoving, tipping and dragging of protesters. Their letter also said officers had carried out spurious arrests and detentions.

Protests outside the fracking site at Preston New Road are entering their third winter. There have been near-daily demonstrations since Cuadrilla began site construction work in January 2017.

Since then there have been accusations of heavy-handed policing and officers sometimes significantly outnumbering protesters. But the meeting was told that relations with police had deteriorated further in recent weeks as officers escorted deliveries to the site, where fracking began last month.

The letter added:

“It is the apparent that vehicle deliveries, or indeed any vehicle movement, is facilitated by police, irrespective of protector numbers and those vehicles have more protection than our human rights.

“We are no longer treated as people with passion and conviction but are treated with contempt.  We are simply trying to protect our communities, to which the police themselves belong.”

Five of the signatories regularly attended police liaison meetings, at which people can raise concerns with senior officers. But they said they no longer had any faith that attending the meetings was beneficial. The letter said:

“We are letting you know we are no longer participating in Police Liaison Meetings nor communicating with Police Officers associated with Operation Manila.”

One of the signatories was Kirkham town councillor and fracking opponent, Miranda Cox. She said:

“Personally I am incredibly sad that we now feel this is our only option.  I believe that to carry on meeting, to go over the same ground, to never achieve satisfaction through the Police Complaints system is just a waste of everyone’s time.”

She said in a statement read to this evening’s meeting:

“Events with particular officers and units over recent weeks have led us to conclude that the deterioration in community relations we predicted last year has indeed happened.”

She said almost all of the signatories of the letter were aged over 45.

“The consensus was that everyone had been raised to respect the police but their experiences at Preston New Road had irreversibly damaged their trust and faith in the system.”

But Cllr Cox said:

“We have witnessed and been victim of poor police decisions and firmly believe our attempts to achieve justice through your systems is impossible.”

She said very few complaints against the police had been upheld.

“Sadly it leaves us to conclude that Lancashire Constabulary have closed ranks against this particular section of the Fylde Community.”

She said other people at the meeting regarded themselves as ordinary, law-abiding citizens. They felt the police were being used as “a force against protesters and a wedge to divide the community”, she said. The protesters were not prepared to “give validity” to this behaviour by continuing to liaise with the police, she added.

The protesters asked Chief Inspector Ogle to pass on their concerns to police forces in other areas where shale gas exploration was underway or planned.

They said the level of policing being devoted to the Preston New Road protests was not sustainable or desirable.

Cllr Cox said:

“One well pad had brought significant harm to community relationships and further expansion of the industry anywhere is going to have catastrophic repercussions.”

  • DrillOrDrop has invited Lancashire Police and the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner to respond to the letter. We will report any comment from the force.

Netpol comment

A report on policing at fracking protests by Netpol concluded that policing operations that caused a “long-term legacy of resentment and distrust create a “new normality that will last long after protests are over.” It said Police and Crime Commissioners needed to recognise that concerns about the public confidence costs of policing protests are just as important as the financial costs.

Netpol’s coordinator, Kevin Blowe, said:

“In Lancashire, Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw and Chief Constable Andy Rhodes have repeatedly ignored complaints about violent policing at Preston New Road – and in doing so, have also ignored the growing breakdown in trust and confidence by local people, included elected councillors.

“No wonder those who have persevered with attending Police Liaison Meetings have had enough.

“Both Grunshaw and Rhodes must respond to their letter immediately.”

65 replies »

  1. Think the police themselves must be fed up with having to be there instead of normal duties and in such numbers just to look after the interests of Cuadrilla when its generally local people trying to protect their countryside. — Am elderly go to site entrance now & again an have seen how certain police treat protestors. — have made a complaint . had it refused and still waiting for an appeal decision over a year later by Police standards Dept. — As for Crime Commissioner , takes police management side and appears to have little to do with what goes on for local people, protestors or otherwise.– Wonder how he monitors events as never seen or herd of anyone from his office being there.

    • Gbk,
      Your trite rejoinder illustrates clearly your total lack of insight into this situation and at the same time your total lack of compassion.
      You don’t work for the Constabulary or the unconventional and gas industry by any chance?
      If not you should!

      [Typo corrected by moderator]

  2. the police have let down there own community, assaulted them and lied about them amd have clearly had no intention of protecting the community or as they say keeping us safe there only goal there only job is 100% facilitation of any vehicle that goes onto cuadrillas site and i might add at high speed with no thought or concern for the safety of people

  3. Well done the true protectors. The boys in blue who protect those going about their lawful business in the face of intimidation.

    How many arrests now? All of them wrongful? Court decided an injunction was valid, for no reason?

    • Uk law is an ass to protect the establishment and the corporations.
      Many arrested were released without charge, others cleared as evidence proved to be unreliable.
      Only serious conviction leading to imprisonment overturned immediately.
      Only violence I have witnessed around Pnr inflicted by Constabulary on vulnerable environment protectors.

        • Citizens of the UK convicted of defending our environment will be glorified when sanity returns.
          Those facilitating the fracking industry will be prosecuted for harm committed.
          Shouldn’t be too long now.

  4. The protesters act for all of us,our future and our children’s future, including the police. They should hang their heads in shame. The force is no longer a law abiding police force for all, but rather, the Government’s private security firm. They should realise that soon they are going to lose their jobs and be replaced by the PM’s husbands security force G4.

  5. Yep Tracy. The police act for all of us. Including the TWO THIRDS who are not against fracking being tested in the UK. That’s what separates democracy from anarchy.

    You think the current PM will be there that long? Wonderland.

    • Tooth Herder Alert!

      Police State Alert!

      Still living the Malice in Blunderland Dream Martin?

      Or is that Malice Through The Fracking Gas?

  6. I just hope the plants on here (or their families and communities) are never on the receiving end of invasive, aggressive and corrupt corporate enforement. But then that’s unlikely, because they’re part of the same system, which will protect it’s own, until it becomes unprofitable to do so. If anyone thinks that the ‘irreparable damage’ described by local councillors is good for society, the police, or indeed their own lives, they are deluded. I feel especially sorry for the people who had any trust in the police as facilitators of human rights, in the first place, because I had that trust 5 years ago. It was lost when I saw the blood and broken bones of gentle people abused by programmed thugs in uniforms. This is what it takes to enforce a government policy that is unpopular with 87% of the local community. [Edited by moderator]

  7. I have total faith in Lancs Police when it comes to catching and convicting criminals for things like Insurance Fraud, Benefit Fraud, Burglaries and Sexual assaults.

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