Thank you Trina
Dismayed by the recent NERC announcement (of £8 million to begin research into the environmental effects of fracking), and disturbed by the reports of policing at the Preston New Road site, this particular ‘guinea pig’ decided to visit Cuadrilla’s site to see it first-hand.
While there, a lock-on occurred, it was over very quickly and was ‘successful’ despite the attempts to prevent it by Cuadrilla security guards and police. The police wear yellow hi-viz jackets and the private security wear orange, so both stood out in the activity.
It was clear to me that the security guards were assaulting the protesters, while the police that I saw, were on the outside edge of the group doing little.
I subsequently spoke to a police officer to suggest that the police should have been controlling and removing the aggressive security men, in order to calm the situation, rather than moving away some of the observers.
His argument was that it was the duty of the security to come to the aid/defence of the police, that security are trained in handling such situations, and it is different in the centre of the melee … oh and that he would ‘Never say Never’ when I doubted that he would thump someone.
Having now watched filming from within the centre of that group, my opinion has not changed; the security men were at the heart of the action and were attacking the protesters. I do not accept that men employed to guard a site should be out on the public highway at all, let alone assaulting the general public.
The police were not under threat, and reinforcements arrived quickly, I counted 50 men on the ground and 16 marked vehicles soon afterwards. I was dismayed by the violence of the security guards, the lack of effective police action, and the subsequent refusal of the police officer to acknowledge my concern.
However as I write this, on 31st July, I see that the police are present in great strength, vastly outnumbering the protesters. I am certain that police are trained to far higher standards than security guards, and yet today they themselves are behaving aggressively in an unrestrained fashion. It is no wonder that friends, who have lived here all their lives, and always respected the police, feel shocked and betrayed.
The consequences of Cuadrilla’s operation will outlast the obvious ones of traffic and noise – trust in the independence of the police, once lost, is not going to be regained.