PRESS RELEASE 8 March 2017
Frack Free Lancashire
Escalating Police Violence Against Anti-Fracking Campaigners
Frack Free Lancashire is horrified by the escalating police violence that campaigners are facing daily at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site on the Fylde Coast, resulting with local farmer John Tootill being assaulted by police and arrested today.
Reminiscent of Barton Moss and Balcombe policing levels and force, peaceful protestors are regularly facing assaults and aggressive policing methods, including the use of pressure points to subdue peaceful protestors.
Frack Free Lancashire strongly believe that the right to protest is not being facilitated by the police, with repeated video evidence of aggressive, unnecessary force to facilitate the Cuadrilla over and above the rights of the community to protest against the undemocratic imposition of a dangerous industry that was voted against.
Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for the Networks for Police Monitoring (Netpol) said:
“Lancashire Police have a duty not only to ‘facilitate’ protest but to ensure the right to freedom of assembly is genuinely protected. When campaigners face uncertainty from one day to the next about whether they might suddenly face arrest or the prospect of disproportionately violent policing, this fundamental right is threatened.
“Once again, we urge the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, to publish a plan for the policing of protests containing a clear set of minimum standards and expectations about police conduct and tactics. They need to start listening to local communities about the right to protest against a site that has been overwhelming rejected by the people of Lancashire.”
Councillor Miranda Cox from Kirkham, stated:
“We have witnessed and experienced an increase in police numbers and a gardening of tactics. At times it has felt that we are being policed as if we are in a riot situation. Clearly there is a balance between public safety and public order and the right to protest, at present the balance appears to tilt in favour of industry rather than the protesters. Arrests appear to be used routinely.
Claire Stephenson from the Preston New Road Action Group said:
“The escalation of aggression by the police into what can only be described as gratuitous violence, seems inextricably linked to Francis Egan’s pleading visit to the Home Office to ask for governmental intervention on anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire. The community and campaigners have been treated with utter contempt. Assaults carried out by police on protestors have caused many injuries, including two of our councilors. The daily planning breaches that are occurring, without consequence for Cuadrilla, clearly demonstrates the inadequacies of this non-starter of an industry and its imaginary regulations. The bias is staggering and we will continue to strongly, but peacefully, resist.”
Notes to the Editor
- Photos attached, with attribution as required for photographer Peter Yankowski’s image.