Under half arrests at Cuadrilla’s fracking site have led to convictions – new data

pnr policing 170720 DoD

Anti-fracking protest policing outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 20 July 2017. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Less than half the arrests at long-running protests outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site have so far ended in convictions, according to figures from Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation at Preston New Road near Blackpool said this backs up their case that police used arrests as a tactic to remove protesters from the site.

Lancashire Police was invited to comment on the data. This post will be updated with any response.

The conviction data was included in recent correspondence between the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and an anti-fracking campaigner. DrillOrDrop understands this is the first time that the annual number of convictions from the Preston New Road protests has been publicly released.

191011 PNR protest policing data extract

Extract of correspondence from the Office of Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner

The numbers show that since the protests began in January 2017 there have been a total of 220 convictions. During the same time, there were a total of 449 arrests and 429 charges.

The conviction figure may rise, according to the PCC, because the charges resulting from arrests in 2019 have not yet reached court.

But based on the current totals, 49% of arrests and 51% of charges have resulted in convictions. The UK conviction rate in magistrates’ courts, where most of the Preston New Road cases have been heard, averaged more than 80%.

PNR arrests charges convictions

Preston New Road protest policing data. Source: Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner

The PCC data showed that the numbers for arrests, charges and convictions have all dropped sharply since the first year of the protests.

2017 saw nearly three quarters of the total number of arrests and charges and more than 80% of convictions.

According to the PCC, there have been just 36 convictions (16% of the total) in the 18 months from January 2018 to June 2019.

  • The Lancashire PCC data on arrests and charges varied slightly from that published online by Lancashire Police.

‘Arrest tactics’


Protest policing outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 1 March 2017. Photo: Peter Yankowski

Nick Danby, of Frack Free Lancashire, who wrote to the PCC about police strategy at Preston New Road, said:

“It is my belief that arrest has been used as a means to remove campaigners from the arena rather than because they have actually committed an indictable offence.”

He asked the PCC for a breakdown of the convictions by offence to indicate if any were for threatening or aggressive behaviour. This data was not provided. But in response to the figures in the correspondence, Mr Danby said:

“There is a clear disconnect between the number arrested and the number actually convicted.”

The policing operation at Preston New Road has been criticised as “heavy handed and inconsistent”. Mr Danby said:

“We think that the policing at the site has totally failed to strike any balance at all between the legitimate right to protest and the rights of Cuadrilla to operate a business.

“The police have, in fact, actively facilitated the industry and done their utmost to deter peaceful protest.

Gina Dowding, Green Party MEP for north west England, said the arrest figures were a reminder of what she called “draconian policing and “infringement of people’s right to protest”. She said:

“With less than half of the arrests at Preston New Road resulting in convictions, it is apparent that the policing tactics at protests seem to be directed as an over-zealous deterrent, rather than facilitating the right to protest, as the police continually state they are doing.”

Ms Dowding added:

“This begs the question: where is the direction coming from for our police resources to be spent in this way? Where is the consent from the public for police to be targeting peaceful protest rather than the real criminal gangs and corporate fraud which really undermines society?”

Protest policing cost

10th Mar 2017 (20 police line up)

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

The PCC’s correspondence also confirmed that the total cost of policing the Preston New Road protests now stands at more than £11.75m.

So far, the Home Office has paid 85% of the costs for 2017-2018 and £5.9m for 2018-2019, the PCC said. A further claim would be submitted for 2019-2020.

Lancashire Police’s webpage on the protests said “on a daily basis, there are approximately 100 officers directly involved in the policing of the fracking operation”.

Mr Danby described this as “completely disproportionate”.

Fracking the second well at Preston New Road was suspended on 26 August 2109 after just over a fortnight following the UK’s strongest fracking-induced seismic event. The company is currently testing the flow rate of gas in the well.

Mr Danby said:

“We feel very strongly that our protests have been vindicated by the recent series of earth tremors which culminated in a 2.9m tremor, which led to all fracking being suspended.

“The police have frequently told us that they are at the site for our safety but this is nonsense. We are protecting the community and the fact that there is such a heavy police deployment gives a clear indication as to the popularity of the industry. No other industry requires this level of police protection.

“We sincerely hope that Lancashire police will now recognise that their current strategy for Preston New Road does not protect the community which it is supposed to serve. It only protects the interests of a climate-wrecking and earthquake-inducing industry.”

Conviction rates at other protest sites

Kirby Misperton (September 2017-March 2018)

171002 KM Eddie Thornton

Policing direct action outside Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site, 2 October 2017. Photo: Eddie Thornton

  • 86 arrests, 62 charges, 42 convictions (North Yorkshire Police data here and here)
  • 48% arrests ended in convictions; 67% of charges ended in convictions
  • Policing costs: £700,660

Barton Moss (November 2013-February 2014)

  • 120 people arrested, 115 people charged, 33 people convicted, 22 cases unresolved at time of research (Keep Moving report)
  • 28% of people arrested were convicted; 29% of people charged were convicted
  • Policing costs £1.7m

Balcombe (July-September 2013)


24 replies »

    • Peter

      I think that statistics are correct, but they did not ‘speak’ the truth, the interpretation ( or speaking ) is by frack Free Lancs et al who view them through their lens of belief.

      I suspect some others may disagree with those opinions based on the statistics, while not disagreeing with the base data.

  1. Extra data regarding level of punishment for those unlucky enough to be made an example of would be interesting though?

  2. Think you will find similar conviction rates for other antisocial (see, there is even a term for it!) activities.

    However, if you then interview those involved doing those “crimes” they are not happy about it either.


  3. Really, delayed?

    You mean an Emoji is “fact”?

    Look up the data yourself, old chap. How many do you think get prosecuted for drunk and disorderly arrests? Certainly not that many in my neck of the woods, where most are taken into custody not only to protect them, but to help the rest of society go around without interference.
    Job done, in most cases. Sound familiar?

    Goodness, they don’t even bother to arrest those taking photos of ladies undies in some areas, let alone prosecute them!

    But, if you want to feast upon data, try the study from University of Warwick, that indicates areas with high air pollution worsens memory by similar to 10 years of ageing! Brigham Young University suggests it is something to do with the hippocampus, so, perhaps we will see some intellectual wizards slow walking around zoos.

    3 litre diesel still enabling your vital photographic work-or can’t you remember?

  4. Your punctuation letting you down, old fruit. You missed the comma to follow “thought”.

    Long time since that English A level, plus the pollution. Understandable.

  5. So, you are suggesting drunk and disorderly arrests are usually prosecuted, delayed reaction? Fact, or wibble?

    Or, do you believe others do not realise they are not? Fact, or wibble?

    Or, are you simply trying to deflect with the fog from the fact you are at the bottom of that hole? Fact, or wibble?

    Three strikes.

    But, thanks for the demonstration of how to try and abuse the intelligence of other posters on this site. (I shall not be tempted to join in.)

    • I was simply asking you for evidence to back up your claim Martian.

      It is abundantly clear that you don’t have any, but it might look better for you if you didn’t add rudeness to ignorance.

      Piling Pelion on Ossa is seldom a good look old boy.

  6. Martin, have you ever attended at PNR when the police response was disproportionate? Have you personally witnessed their aggressive tactics, if not I don’t really think you are qualified to comment, for those of us who have been at PNR and discussed those Police actions with the Local Chief Inspector we are perfectly better informed than you. I know for a fact Refracktion is far better placed to comment than someone who likes to comment from afar!

    • You disagree with Pauline then, who posted a couple of days that there are two sides to every story??

      With this subject only showing one side, including the DoD section, then take up your beef with Pauline.

      You know for a fact? Really? This is the same delayed reaction who argued hard and long to justify a factually incorrect poster from FoE that had been pulled up by ASA? Perhaps he has seen redemption now.

      But, as reaction could not bring himself to admit he lives in the real world, perhaps you do and could explain whether you believe other antisocial activities, the example is drunk and disorderly, actually have a high prosecution rate after arrest? Quite simple, whether you live near PNR or far away within the UK, the situation will be very similar, and known to most who live in the real world. Or perhaps you would prefer to follow “his masters voice” and suggest black is white?

      By the way, interesting you fall back to a subjective term of “disproportionate”. Remember Pauline’s comment.

      Well done though for offering the cloak of protection with Fifi. But, it still does not make black white.

      • Actually Martin I have got direct experience here and I am also sure you have never been to PNR. If you have please say when it was.

        I have experience of being straight arm tackled by a policeman while walking peacefully along the pavement. I was in his way as he ran very fast after somebody else, so he saw the sending off offence as no problem. Amazingly with all the police evidence gatherers videoing every day I was told that the incident was not caught on video. Not even on his bodycam. Amazing that! It was a good job I am a sturdy tall man. Had I been a frail person or I would have been left lying in the road. He was dangerously out of control.

        I have also got documentary evidence that a constable lied in a sworn witness statement regarding an incident where he passed dangerously close to my bicycle at speed in a contraflow but attempts to bring this to the attention of the chief inspector resulted in accusations about breach of process.

        These are just things that happened to me and I tend to avoid confrontation with the police where I can.

        I am by no means anti-police but some of the behaviour that I have experienced and witnessed at PNR has left a very sour taste, and yes I do believe that arrest is used as a deliberate tactic to remove people, as reflected in the figures above

        Now if you have any evidence to support your own contentions let’s be having it. Otherwise stop the Collywibble. It’s very tedious and sdoes not reflect well on you.

        [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

      • Don’t bring me into this Martin. I agree with The Punisher that unless you have personal experience of police tactics at PNR you are not in a position to judge. My comment the other day, about two sides to every story, was referring to your remarks about an incident which happened last year involving a certain Conservative lady and an anti fracker. The side of the story you heard was the report in the media after Tory PR had put a certain spin on it. The two women involved later spoke to each other and the whole incident was amicably resolved but of course, this got no media mention,

  7. Change the subject as much as you like, reaction, and claim rudeness for reality. However, you have still to explain your position, other than black is white, that it is not unusual for certain offences to have a low prosecution rate following arrests. The example provided was drunk and disorderly, most often managed as an antisocial offence best managed (usually) by removing the antisocial aspect for a short period of time.

    Yes, arrest is used as a deliberate tactic to remove people. It is not uncommon. It is not uncommon for those to have been arrested (and their buddies) to feel upset about that. It is not uncommon for many others in society to be very happy about it-usually, a majority.

    Now, do you really need any data to see that? If so, as I stated earlier, you find it, as those of us who live in the real world recognise it as reality-whether we agree with it or not. If you want to adopt a position of being separated from reality, then your choice but somewhat odd in relation to this particular subject, and what is happening in London last week and this week.

    I shall worry about what truly reflects upon myself, and not worry about what reflects upon you. But thanks for your concern.

    • Martin. You concede that arrest is used as a deliberate tactic to remove people. This tactic has been regularly used by police at PNR. The point is that many of these arrests result in people being bailed away from the site, often for months, until their case is heard. It is then found on the day of the case that there’s is no case to answer, the case is thrown out or the person is found not guilty. The effect of this tactic has then been to remove that person’s legal right to protest, under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act.
      As a pro fracker, you may think this is good practice but just consider how you would feel if you wished to protest about something. The right to peaceful protest is a very precious right that is under serious threat at present. Be careful what you wish for.

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