Fedster + 1,307 Posted March 24, 2018 Share Posted March 24, 2018 Personnel are skipping rest days to keep operation afloat. Protesters, including actress Emma Thompson, at an anti-fracking walk and silent protest at the Cuadrilla site in Preston on March 21. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire Lancashire Constabulary has set-up a separate command structure to deal with anti-fracking protests using officers working rest days - despite “growing concerns” over their wellbeing. Residents have been battling plans for major gas exploration in Little Plumpton near Blackpool for years and in July activists from across the country joined locals after Lancashire County Council gave Cuadrilla the green light for their fracking operation. Protests, concentrated at Preston New Road, peaked last summer, with the policing response, Operation Manilla, using between 75-100 officers per day. To date Lancashire Constabulary has made over 350 arrests, dealt with more than 80 lock ons, 46 full or partial road closures and 145 complaints about policing of the fracking scheme. Dealing with the level of protest has required a large ongoing policing operation to be in place since January 2017, with a public order capability of around 50 and 75 officers per day. By July it became obvious the force could not “operationally sustain” the activity level, according to a report for the area's police and crime panel, and began drafting in support via mutual aid. “Originally, the approach taken was to resource operation Manilla entirely with Lancashire officers, this was done by using a combination of officers abstracted from their normal duties and paid overtime on officer’s rest days," the report says. “The impact of keeping an operation of this scale staffed entirely with Lancashire officers was a significant strain on the available policing resources to provide ‘business as usual’ policing in Lancashire. “This situation was frequently being exacerbated by regular short notice emergency abstraction of officers from their scheduled duties due to unexpected spikes in protestor activity. “There were also growing concerns around the accumulated officer wellbeing impact of continually working their rest days for several months. “Some notable competing issues had included the increased strain on the police service following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, plus the increase in demand nearly all police forces had experienced in recent months,” the report says. After the decision was taken to accept help from other forces, mutual aid contributed between a third and one half of the public order part of Operation Manilla. But Lancashire Police and Crime Panel raised concerns about the force’s approach and asked Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw whether “there were other options available” at a previous meeting. Documents from the panel’s meeting last week state a permanent command structure for Operation Manilla has been established for March-December 2018 in response to the panel's questions, supplemented by a public order resource made up of officers working on rest days. “Whilst there is a financial cost, there will be no cost in terms of abstractions from their normal place of duty," they say. The costs will initially be met from constabulary reserves although Mr Grunshaw has, with the support of local MPs, written to the Home Office to ask for financial help. Lancashire Constabulary turned down Cuadrilla’s offer to pay for on-site security costs as this would “comprise [sic] the impartiality of the operation.” Depending on the presence of gas reserves, the current operation is expected to continue until at last 2019. According to the report protesters made clear in discussions with police they intend to “stop the fracking process at Preston New Road by any means, to use direct action in combination with peaceful protest and mass civil disobedience” and put up national activists in protest camps". Protest activity is expected to peak again when many vehicles are expected to arrive as work steps up at the site. Since January 2017, Lancashire Constabulary estimates its policing of the protects has cost £6.56 million, including £2.7 million for officer overtime and £700,000 for mutual aid. Cuadrilla also pays for its own security staff. Lancashire officers are escorting HGV convoys to stop protesters throwing themselves in front of the trucks. View On Police Oracle Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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