Anti-fracking vigil to call on Lancashire Police to “Stop Trampling on Our Freedom to Protest”
On Wednesday 17 May, Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners plan to hold a silent vigil at Kirkham Police Station in protest against the increasingly aggressive policing operation at the nearby Preston New Road fracking site and the way the right to protest has been repeatedly trampled on.
Campaigners will hand in an open letter, signed by over 300 local people, calling on the incoming Chief Constable, Andy Rhodes, to take part in an open public meeting to listen to concerns and answer questions about Lancashire Police’s strategy at the site.
The vigil is part of the “Swap Work for Work“ protest day organised by campaigners at the Preston New Road site.
They are supported by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), a national human rights organisation that has monitored the policing of anti-fracking protests since 2014 and has been increasingly alarmed by Lancashire Police’s failure to learn from previous opposition to fracking in other parts of the country. In particular, Netpol is concerned about often extremely aggressive behaviour by officers, the way protesters are pushed into the path of busy traffic with a lack of care for their safety and arbitrary decisions about arrests.
Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for Netpol, 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 between Lancashire Police and local people.”
“The timing of escalating aggressive behaviour by police officers, just as the fracking industry and its supporters have called for police to ‘crack down on protesters’, has further damaged confidence and trust.”
“In the interests of transparency and accountability, we urge the new Chief Constable to agree to the request to participate and answer questions in an open public meeting and call on the Police & Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, to also attend and take part.”
The vigil takes place between 1pm and 2pm at Kirkham Police Station, Freckleton Street, Kirkham PR4 2SN.