Ten questions for Lancashire’s fracking ‘Silver’ Commander

Lancashire Police officers outside the Preston New Road site near Blackpool. PHOTO: Frack Off

Tonight between 7 pm and 8 pm, Supt Richard Robertshaw, the “silver commander” for the policing operation at the fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire, is holding a Facebook Q&A 

A silver commander is responsible for tactics: day to day operational decisions are made by the bronze commander. With that in mind, here are 10 questions that others might want to raise with the Superintendent this evening:

  • How does the Superintendent justify the use of extremely aggressive tactics by Lancashire Police against protesters that have included the assault of local councillors and a wheelchair user?
  • How does the Superintendent justify pushing and shoving protesters towards the path of busy traffic, with a fundamental lack of care for their safety and the risk of serious or fatal injury?
  • Can the Superintendent explain what tactical instructions he has given for making arrests, as protesters are uncertain from one day to the next about whether they are likely to face the possibility of arrest?
  • Can the Superintendent explain what human rights considerations he has given to his legal duty to protect the freedom to protest, as tactical decisions by Lancashire Police about how and where local people can or cannot legitimately protest seem increasingly arbitrary?
  • In the interests of transparency, can the Superintendent clarify the intelligence gathering role of Police Liaison Officers at the Preston New Road site?
  • Can the Superintendent confirm that the presence of so-called ‘outsiders’ at protests at Preston New Road is never considered a trigger to apply more ‘robust’ policing?
  • Can the Superintendent provide further information on the extent to which the oil and gas industry contributes to or is briefed about police operational decision-making?
  • Can the Superintendent confirm that the oil and gas industry or its security contractors are not involved in the collection, dissemination or sharing of police intelligence data?
  • Can the Superintendent give an undertaking that he has not deployed undercover police officers at anti-fracking protests in Lancashire and will not do so in the future?

And finally, perhaps the most important question:

  • Rather than the anonymity of Facebook, will Superintendent Robertshaw give a commitment to come and listen to the questions and concerns of local people by participating personally in an open public meeting on the policing of protests at Preston New Road?