Vigil planned over policing at Fylde fracking site

Police at the Preston New Road fracking site
Police at the Preston New Road fracking site
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Protesters are to hold a silent vigil at Kirkham Police station to complain about the policing of a Fylde fracking site.

Anti-fracking campaigners have accused the police of being over aggressive and deploying too many officers at the Little Plumpton site off Preston New Road.

They say the cost to the public is too high and they are restricting people’s rights to protest peacefully.

They plan to hand in a letter, signed by hundreds of local people, calling on the incoming Chief Constable, Andy Rhodes and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, to take part in an open public meeting to listen to concerns.

One of the protesters, Bob Dennett, who was arrested after taking part in a 12 person lock-on protest at the site on Monday, said at times the police response had been too aggressive. He said protesters, including a man from Blackpool in wheelchair, had been pushed over at the site.

He said: “It has been over the top. We spoke to the silver commander at the site on Friday and things were much better on Monday.

“These officers are cooped up in vans all day which is not healthy, they are not trained for this sort of thing. They are framed to respond to violence and trained in crowd control and that is not appropriate in a peaceful protest like ours.”

He said the £450,000 a month police were setting aside to pay for policing the protest was just the tip of the iceberg, since there were extra police and court costs.

The protesters are being supported by Netpol, a national human rights organisation which monitors policing.

Kevin Blowe, its coordinator, said: “Concerns have been raised about the financial costs of policing the protests at Preston New Road but little thought appears to have been given to the legacy costs of this confrontational style of policing or the long-term impact it is having on relations with local people.”

See also: Who pays for cost of policing fracking?