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 »

        • I’ll be honest with you Martin I couldn’t careless, it’s just a humorous aside relating to community bribes and a play on Franny’s name.

          • We could mention the bullying by activists to scare the “real” locals away from the camps who do not believe in their tactics. People have been conned into contributing to a “Fines fund” then discover that is only for a select few. It is all there on their own pages where disgruntled protesters have finally spoken out, but it’s just like DriporDribble, not interested in facts or real journalism, people ignore it and say it’s for the greater good. Support at PNR has never been so low.

            • JMNS – Believe what you like. I’m a “real local”, I’m 72 years of age and I’ve never scared anyone away or been scared away by the few troublemakers who air their childish, personal grudges online against stalwart protectors, Protectors who are mainly local and some who aren’t but we are all local to this planet. Protectors who spend far more time at the gates at PNR and in other actions, often at great personal cost, in all weathers, than do the trouble makers who play into the industry’s hands.

  1. What happens when even the Police living in the community can no longer drink the water? This is NOT like Thatcher breaking the unions… this is far more insidious and malign.

  2. Do you remember when the police used to protect and serve the people, instead of acting as henchmen for corporations, and undermining (pun intended) them?

  3. The majority of people in this country support the Police in their efforts at PNR. They are helping a company go about their lawful business. Stop the continuous harrasment, obstruction, lock ons, lorry surfing etc. and the Police won’t be required. Why should a company have to put up with all of this? You are lucky you are dealing with the UK Police and not those from some of our European neighbours. France and Germany would have been much more severe; Hungary & Greece would have stopped all this nonsense a long time ago.

    • Paul [edited by moderator] you have no idea whats going on there every day We are talking over 50 police officers or as we call them Goons because thats all they are paid corporate thugs they close of roads they dont adhere to the traffic gegulation that both the council and Mr Keagen agreed to They have drilled through the main Aquafer causing local flooding when they start fracking they will be using million of litres which are poisoned for future use you cant drink it [edited by moderator]

      • Of course I know whats going on there. I wouldn’t have written the above if I didn’t. Traffic regs get changed because of you lot protesting – they move equipment in / out when you are not there to stop you being run over and to make sure the operation continues. During protest hours there have been near misses – but if you are not there, no issues, no Police, Cuadrilla would have finished by now and packed their bags if JP, John Hobson and Alan Tootill are correct.

        You brought this perceived Police issue upon yourselves.

        And my comment copied below is correct; you are in the minority.

        “The majority of people in this country support the Police in their efforts at PNR. They are helping a company go about their lawful business. Stop the continuous harrasment, obstruction, lock ons, lorry surfing etc. and the Police won’t be required. Why should a company have to put up with all of this?”

    • I disagree, Paul Tresto, I feel the majority of ordinary people are sympathetic to the protesters and are horrified at the treatment meted out to them by an aggressive police force that are acting more like a private security firm than a public body

      • A few local people perhaps. But Nationally you are wrong. People generally support business, support the Police and don’t like protesters, particularly the swampy serial protesters who jump from one bandwagon to the next and contribute zero to society, pay no tax but happy to take benefits.

        • i Suggest you get your facts right before being offensive to protestors .I am very local and a pensioner who worked and paid taxes alongside my husband who is also retired and still pays tax .Many of the protestors are also the same plus the ones with degrees and ones who come in their spare time between working..They are fracking under our house .of course not under yours .i can tell you would feel different then .We are thinking of the air quality we breathe and for our children and grandchildrens health

          • What is wrong with my “facts”. The issue is not about “locals”. Unless you are a local who also happens to be a swampy serial protester who jump from one bandwagon to the next….. The disruptive ones tend to have addresses away from the Fylde. They give you all a bad name. It may surprise you but I know a fair bit about “fracking” as I am (or at least was) a fully qualified and experienced “fracker”. Not sure why you are worried about fracking under your house?

          • I’d be very willing to have fracking happen under my house. I’m also a pensioner who paid taxes. I’d like my grandchildren to be kept warm by a reliable energy source in the years to come. It seems to me that natural gas, being the lowest CO2 fossil fuel, works very well as a partner for intermittent wind and solar power.

            Ultimately energy policy depends on balancing the environment, security, reliability and cost. All these factors are important. Home produced gas may (we’re only at the exploration stage) make an important contribution to meeting our future energy needs. Judging from what’s happening in Paris, the literally billions of pounds spent on green subsidies may eventually run up against the cost factor and generate public opposition.

            It seems quite likely to me that, in the near future, coming out of the current political chaos, Green versus “Pale-Green” and also Nationalist versus Internationalist may well become the political dimensions to replace Left versus Right.

    • Paul – if you are making comparisons I think you’ll find it’s more extreme on both sides in France – the CRS are not generally considered a model of enlightened policing and when the French decide to protest they don’t hold back either, as we have seen recently.

  4. The police should be used dealing with drug gangs, these fracking protesters have wasted vast amounts of Council Tax payers money and essential police man hours.

    • Gasman, it’s the frackers that have come uninvited into our community that are the cause of the ridiculous police presence at and around the PNR fracking site.
      Remember. No Fracking, no problem!

      • The “frackers” have a licence from the Government and a work program to fulfill along with all the necessary permits and approvals.

  5. people need to wake up lancashire police. are here to protect the intrests of the govenment and there rich elite masters from the likes of you me and the protesters.

  6. People who protest at the police are usually the ones who have something to hide or got caught breaking the law. [Edited by moderator]

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