UK: New report denounces "confrontational and violent" policing of anti-fracking protests

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New report denounces "confrontational and violent" policing of anti-fracking protests
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A new report from the Network for Policing Monitoring (Netpol) denounces the "increasingly confrontational and violent tactics" used by police against anti-fracking protesters, highlighting a "widespread perception that the onshore oil and gas industry has suceeded in lobbying the police to 'crack down' on protests".

The report, 'Protecting the Planet is Not A Crime', looks at the policing of anti-fracking protests in Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Surrey, Sussex and Derbyshire and underlines a number of a trends:

  • "confrontational and aggressive" police tactics, particularly in Lancashire and North Yorkshire, that "seem deliberately intent on making it as difficult as possible for local people to effectively protest";
  • lobbying from the fracking industry "for exactly these kind of tactics";
  • the scale of protests being attributed by police commanders to "outsiders";
  • local council and police officials labelling anti-fracking campaigners as "extremists";
  • a focus by police on financial costs of protests while ignoring "the long-term public confidence costs";
  • the criminalisation of large numbers of people through the police's adoption of a "zero-tolerance approach to any form of disruption";
  • the fracking industry is "now actively looking to civil injunctions to limit the scope for opposing its activities";

Netpol is calling for "an urgent review of two year-old national policy on the policing of anti-fracking protests," the need for which the organisation says is "more pressing than ever" given what it has witnessed in the preparation of the report.


And: Kettling tea ladies: Hardline policing of fracking demos is out of control( by Keith Taylor MEP:

"Officers are increasingly employing aggressive and confrontational tactics in an attempt to neutralise the political impact of fracking protests, according to the latest report by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), which was published today. The human rights group warns that cumulatively these tactics are having a "chilling effect" on the freedom to protest itself.

But I don't need to take Netpol's word for it. I have witnessed these tactics up close and personal - only last month. It was during my visit to Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire to listen to protesters' concerns about the policing operation that I witnessed the shocking treatment of Jackie Brookes, the fracking site's 79-year-old 'tea lady'.

On arriving at the site, situated in a beautiful part of God's Own County, the first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the policing operation. The number of boots on the ground was completely disproportionate to the criminal threat posed by a small group of peaceful local residents."

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