“Something has to change” – new Netpol report calls for immediate review of policing of fracking protests
New report calls for “comprehensive review of national policy” on the policing of opposition to the onshore oil and gas industry
Outside shale gas company Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road near Blackpool, Netpol is today launching its new report, ‘Protecting the Planet is Not a Crime’, which documents our many concerns about the way the police have responded to opposition to fracking at sites around England.
Much of the report focuses on protests in Lancashire, where there have been over 300 arrests since January. Throughout 2017, Netpol has heard testimony from campaigners and seen evidence of police officers pushing people into hedges and even knocking them unconscious, violently dragging older people across the road and shoving others into speeding traffic.
We had also heard about the targeting of disabled protesters (including repeatedly tipping a wheelchair user from his chair) and officers using painful pressure point restraint techniques. Campaigners have repeatedly accused Lancashire police of ignoring violent and unlawful actions by private security employed by Cuadrilla.
However, during a visit last week to Kirby Misperton in north Yorkshire, where protests only began on 19 September, Netpol spoke to campaigners who are already echoing many of the same complaints made by their counterparts in Lancashire. Read more
“A long-term legacy of resentment and distrust” – new report calls for an independent review of the policing of Lancashire anti-fracking protests
On Monday 20 November, the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) is launching its latest report on the policing of anti-fracking protests, which focuses in large part on events in Lancashire.
The launch will take place at the site of months of continued opposition to the shale gas company Cuadrilla at Preston New Road near Blackpool. Read more
‘The End of Policing’ by Alex S Vitale, published by Verso, October 2017
During the 2017 UK general election, the Police Federation ran an extremely successful campaign, eventually taken up for different motivations by both the Labour Party’s left-wing leadership and the right-wing press, arguing a direct link between falling police numbers and rising levels of crime.
Since then, only Rebecca Roberts from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) has been able to offer any challenge to this idea within the mainstream media. Police numbers have undoubtedly reduced since 2010 but still remain at historically high levels after years of growth. Nevertheless, this explanation for an increase in some types of crime has become an accepted truth: questioning the need for more police officers is seen as straying far outside the Overton window of political acceptability.
‘The End of Policing’, a new book by Brooklyn associate professor Alex S Vitale, goes much further, however, by posing questions that seem almost unthinkable in the US (its main focus) or here in the UK.
What if we really need significantly fewer police officers and more attention to alternatives that are less coercive? What if the police are wholly unsuited to solving many of the problems the state asks them to deal with? Read more
Substantial donation kick-starts new project providing financial support for resisting civil legal threats to anti-fracking groups.
A new civil legal action fund supporting anti-fracking groups launches today, as a number of campaigners opposed an interim injunction obtained by the shale gas company INEOS at a hearing this morning at the high court in London.
Aggressive legal tactics by the company have raised widespread concerns about what effect the court order it was granted at the end of July may have, if left unchallenged, on freedom of assembly and the right to protest.
This case is unusual as previous injunctions involving fracking sites have been on a far smaller scale and have normally focused on a single location. The INEOS injunction covers a wide area of the country and seeks to prevent a broad range of protest activities. including “slow-walking” of deliveries to its sites.
Most civil cases are less dramatic. This does not mean, however, that the sudden receipt of legal threats or a ‘service of order’ notice in any circumstance, particularly when oil and gas company lawyers attempt to send them via Facebook or Twitter, will not cause considerable alarm. This is invariably exacerbated by the obstacles to seeking expert legal advice. Read more
Why anti-fracking campaigners must challenge INEOS’ national injunction
CALL-OUT: If you live in an INEOS exploration licence area, are potentially eligible for legal aid and are prepared to take a stand against the injunction obtained by the company, please contact Michael Oswald at Bhatt Murphy on 020 7729 1115
On 31 July, the shale gas company INEOS, which has exploration licences across North and South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Cheshire, obtained an interim injunction preventing ‘persons unknown’ from conduct that might constitute “harassment” against it or from committing a range of offences including obstruction of the highway. The court order states that anyone disobeying the injunction could face a summons for contempt of court and could face imprisonment, a fine or the seizure of assets. Read more
Over the coming months, more and more Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners arrested at Preston New Road face trials at Magistrates Courts around the north west of England.
Even for experienced activists, appearing in court is nerve-wracking and many defendants from Lancashire are facing a hearing for the first time. All would welcome as much solidarity as possible, with supporters in the public gallery to witness proceedings.
However, local campaign groups have said they recognise the risk that drawing a significant number of Protectors away from the frontline on Preston New Road to attend court may make it easier for Cuadrilla to beat the blockade without sufficient opposition on site.
They need others to step forward and offer court solidarity – can you help? Read more
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. Read more
One of the UK’s smallest police forces, Durham Police, is reportedly gathering video captured by officers’ body worn cameras to create a ‘troublemakers’ database – contravening national guidance that officers should not use the technology as an ‘intelligence-gathering tool’.
Body Worn Video cameras, or ‘bodycams’ as they are more usually known, are now a global phenomenon. Most UK police forces use them routinely, as do forces in the US, Australia and Europe. Nor is it just the police that is using this technology: bodycams are routinely worn by bailiffs, security guards, even traffic wardens and council workers.
This is arguably one of the biggest single expansions of surveillance capacity since the introduction of CCTV, and one that is highly profitable for bodycam manufacturers such as Axon (formerly Taser International). Read more
As Reclaim the Power’s month of ‘Rolling Resistance‘ solidarity actions in support of Lancashire anti-fracking groups entered its second week on 10 July, Netpol was able to witness first-hand the policing of protests at Preston New Road and to talk to local campaigners about their experiences.
The week began with the arrival of public order officers from Cumbria, Merseyside and North Wales, as Lancashire Police used ‘mutual aid‘ arrangements for the first time to bolster its presence at the Cuadrilla fracking site. Following the previous week’s aggression by police and security, campaigners were understandably nervous. Read more