Netpol has today launched a new film on the many allegations of police violence made by campaigners who are blockading shale gas company Cuadrilla’s drilling site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
In the first in a forthcoming series of short films made with Gathering Place Films on the policing of anti-fracking protests, Netpol shares the voices of campaigners on what is currently the front-line of resistance to fracking in the UK.
Lancashire Police is accused of aggressive and inconsistent tactics that has left some local people afraid to exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Campaigns describe attempts to engage with Lancashire’s Chief Constable about their concerns that have been brushed aside.
They also explain the escalation of direct action such as “locking on” is the result of people feeling these tactics are safer than having police officers shove them around.
Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for Netpol, commented:
The testimony and often graphic footage in this film is compelling. Local residents fighting fracking in Lancashire speak about repeated violence and aggression from the police and a complete disregard for their human rights.
The police always assert that they must strike a balance between the rights of protestors and others. Human rights law is, however, very clear – that balance should always fall in favour of the right to protest unless there is strong evidence for interfering with protesters’ rights.
Inconvenience or disruption alone are not sufficient reasons for doing so and the senior officer in charge of the operation acknowledges in the film that protesters are not violent.
There is significant evidence, which this film highlights, that Lancashire Police is therefore completely ignoring its legal responsibilities.
In doing so, it has left some fearful of taking part in protests – and others more determined than ever to make sure their freedom of expression and assembly are not taken from them.
For more on Netpol’s ‘Protecting the Protectors’ campaign, click here.