Frequently Asked Questions: fracking20 March, 2017
Who is paying for policing?
Facilitating the right to peaceful protest, keeping roads and highways open, protecting the public and preventing crimes occurring are all elements of the day to day job of Lancashire police. As residents of Lancashire we are all paying for everything the police do through national taxation, which comes back to the police through Home Office and Communities and Local Government Grants, or through local taxation, via the council tax precept.
The police have a job to do at Preston New Road and any other protest or largescale community event for that matter. There have been suggestions that Cuadrilla should contribute to the stretched policing resources. Even if this were possible through a lawful mechanism this would create a potential conflict of interest for the police. It would be the same if the police took a levy from the protestors to cover the cost of policing their right to protest. The constabulary and officers have to remain neutral, they are neither there for the company nor the protestors; they are there to protect the public as a whole.
How can I complain about the conduct of an officer?
I have been to visit the site and speak to officers on the ground. They are doing a very difficult job under intense pressure and scrutiny. Sadly, some are seeking to portray the police as the enemy but these are local, Lancashire officers doing their job to the best of their ability. We know that sometimes the conduct of officers doesn’t meet the high standards we set here in Lancashire and there is a procedure in place for looking into and dealing with complaints to resolve cases that are raised by members of the public.
As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am responsible for recording and investigation complaints and conduct matters against the Chief Constable. Complaints against all other police officer ranks are dealt with by Lancashire Constabulary’s professional standards department (PSD) in the first instance in line with a published policy. You can find out more here: Complaints against Lancashire Police.
I am not happy about police tactics on the site
Keeping the public safe and ensuring road around the protest site is safe for all, protestors, workers and passing drivers alike, are operational questions for commanders in charge of the policing operation. I receive regular updates about the situation on the ground and feedback from members of the public as well.
I have been reassured that the tactics available to officers and used on the ground are all in line with Home Office and College of Policing guidelines. Officers react to the situation they are faced with and will respond in a legitimate and proportional manner. The prime consideration of the police presence, and the approaches they take, is to keep everyone safe at the site.
The road itself is a major arterial route for the area, having seen the traffic come past at 50mph I know just how dangerous a spot it can be. It is also a priority route for emergency services to be able to use and keeping it open and passable is also a priority.
If you have a complaint about specific tactics being used you can raise these with Lancashire Constabulary through their complaints process.
How are police engaging with different groups involved?
Senior commanders within the police have worked very hard since day one with protestor groups, both local residents and businesses. The police have respected and facilitated the public right to protest but also have to allow people and companies to go about their lawful business.
Maintaining a positive relationship remains a key priority for the police and I know regular meetings take place to ensure this happens with information being shared and protests being facilitated where possible and legal.
Protest groups and businesses know who their liaison officers are and how they can raise concerns and I would encourage people to continue to work at those relationships as it is a two way process. When it comes down to it, the police have a job to do for the people of Lancashire which is to keep everyone safe and ensure actions are lawful. Sadly, where people are determined to break the law, go beyond lawful and agreed protests and put people’s safety at risk the police are duty bound to intervene.
Who decides about fracking in Lancashire?
As Commissioner, I am responsible for holding the police to account through the Chief Constable and I am clear that the police are in a difficult position as a result of national decisions on fracking. Officers on the frontline are working people from Lancashire doing their jobs and don’t deserve to be portrayed as or treated as the enemy.
If people have concerns or complaints about fracking in Lancashire this is a decision made at Westminster and as such they can direct their concerns and objections to Ministers. These are issues decided upon by national government and people should look to contact their local MPs as their representatives to address the complaints they have about this decision and how it affects Lancashire.
Why are officers from other police forces at the Preston New Road site
Due to the increased protester and the required police presence to keep everyone safe at the site, the Chief Constable has utilised ‘mutual aid’. This a national scheme which sees officers from other police forces around the country brought in to offer support to Lancashire Constabulary. This does incur greater costs than only having Lancashire officers on site but will lessen the impact on the rest of the Constabulary’s operations across Lancashire.
These officers are operating under the direction of Lancashire police and will be called upon as long as necessary to ensure the safety of the public.