Six more arrested at Balcombe Cuadrilla site

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Officers have continued their policing operation at the Cuadrilla site at Balcombe today (Monday July 29).

Six people have been arrested today, making the total 23 since Friday morning.

Superintendent Steve Whitton said: “We understand how strongly some people feel about the issue of fracking but it is important that they work with us to protest safely and peacefully.

“It is a difficult balance for police - to support an absolute legitimate right for people to protest peacefully and also uphold the legal right of the company to operate. We will do all we can to keep that balance right.

“Our primary tactic is to talk to people and officers are going to great lengths to explain to people why we are there and what is acceptable in terms of their safety and others working at the location.

“When we police these kinds of demonstrations we will always look for a negotiated response. We would much rather talk to people and persuade them to move than use coercion.

“Some pictures in the media look dramatic. What they often don’t show is the length officers have gone to persuade protestors to move. If protesters block the way and it is lawful for the company to operate then they need to move. If they are repeatedly asked to move, and at times are putting their own safety at risk, some level of coercion has to be used. There are a range of tactics that officers are trained to use and the use of pressure points is one that is proportionate and uses the minimum of force necessary.

“When you have a protest of this nature you need to get the balance right. We look to resource it at the lowest level that will be effective and that is a complex thing to judge.

We do not want to waste resources but equally safety of the protesters and protecting people’s rights are a priority.

“This operation has put a strain on police resources. It does mean that we have postponed some proactive work but it will not affect any calls for assistance. We are continually reviewing the policing operation, working with the protesters, the community and the company to ensure any ongoing policing commitment is appropriate.

“Some people have asked how much the policing operation has cost but we don’t have the cost at this time and it it is changing every day . We will be transparent when we are in a position to do so.”