The government is to provide £4.3m towards the cost of policing anti-fracking protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site, Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner confirmed this afternoon.
Clive Grunshaw said the cost of Operation Manilla outside the Preston New Road site near Blackpool, will have reached nearly £11.5m by the end of March 2019.
Last year, the government gave Lancashire £1.4m, the minimum allowed under Home Office rules.
But in a letter yesterday, the policing minister Nick Hurd said the government had decided to waive the rules on the Special Grant repayments. He said this was because the operation, which began in January 2017, was ongoing and was having a “significant financial impact” on Lancashire Police.
Mr Grunshaw said:
“This is a real victory for the people of Lancashire.
“Whilst the grant doesn’t cover the full costs of the operation, it is a huge contribution and will make a significant difference, recovering what we have already spent.
“I have always maintained that the police budget, from which we’ve already saved £86m since 2010, should be spent on policing services to keep people safe. This is not extra money but will lessen the burden on the force.
“This is a resource demand which is not likely to leave Lancashire any time soon. Protests are still ongoing and are expected to escalate as we enter spring and summer and officers on the ground continue to do a very difficult job under intense pressure and scrutiny.
“The decision to frack in our county was borne in Whitehall after the judgement made by Lancashire County Council was overturned. The expectation on Lancashire Constabulary to cover the costs of this decision was not a fair deal so I am pleased this has been recognised and additional costs for this operation are being met.”
Under Home Office rules, police and crime commissioners can claim only for the additional costs of a police operation. These comprise costs such as overtime and mutual aid from other forces.
Claims can be made only when the operation costs exceed 1% of the annual police force budget. But the government has waived this rule, Mr Grunshaw said.
The additional costs for the Lancashire operation amount to £6.8m. The payment from the government is made up of a special grant of £2.3m for 2018-2019. This represents 85 per cent of the total additional costs.
An additional £2m has also been given towards the 2017/18 costs. This makes the total grant received for the operation £5.8m. A further application will be considered for the financial year 2019-20.
As part of Operation Manilla, Lancashire Police have recorded 435 arrests and 429 charges up to December 2018. There is no police data on the number of convictions arising from arrests and charges at Preston New Road.