William Eichler 26 April 2017

Minister rejects police pleas for help tackling anti-fracking protests

The Government has rejected a plea from the police for extra funds to help pay for policing anti-fracking protests in Lancashire.

Lancashire residents have continued to try and block a fracking site after the high court ruled the controversial method for extracting gas could go ahead at the Preston New Road site.

The county council originally refused to give the energy company Cuadrilla permission to frack at the site, but they were overruled by communities secretary Sajid Javid.

The Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw warned the policing minister, Brandon Lewis, that it will cost upwards of £450,000 per month to police the protests ‘round the clock’.

However, his request for financial support from the Government was rejected by the minister who explained ‘there is no central Government funding stream available to meet the policing costs incurred as a result of fracking.’

He added that the commissioner could apply for special grant funding, but said this was ‘only available when the additional costs incurred are greater than 1% of the PCC’s budget.’

Mr Grunshaw said this means Lancashire Constabulary will have to pay at least £2.6m to police the protests before they can have the chance to apply for additional help.

‘Our officer resources are being stretched to the limits and the government has said that there will be no additional financial help until our costs reach £2.6m spend. Even then, we will only be able to claim anything over that initial cost,’ said Mr Grunshaw.

‘That’s £2.6m that could have been spent investigating child exploitation, serious crimes and domestic abuse, but instead is focused on policing protests.

Other crimes will continue to be investigated of course – but any additional resources that may have helped them be solved sooner, may not be there.’

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