Greater Manchester Police accused of disproportionate force as policing cost of anti-fracking protest set to reach £1m

Force investigating 21 complaints against officers - including a number of "serious allegations"

The cost of policing a two-month anti-fracking protest is set to reach £1m amid accusations by campaigners of police violence and disproportionate levels of force being deployed to ensure drilling can go ahead.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Sir Peter Fahy, said the daily demonstrations at Barton Moss in Salford were diverting manpower away from crime investigations and community operations. 

Opponents of the controversial fracking technique, in which gas is blasted from rocks using water and sand, have been camped out since November on the side of a lane opposite an exploratory drilling site run by IGas, the operator of the largest number of onshore oil and gas wells in Britain.

It is claimed that up to 100 officers are routinely deployed against 30 protesters. So far 117 people have been arrested and 114 charged with a variety of offences including obstruction and breach of bail.

Frack Free Manchester, the environmental group opposing drilling, has accused GMP of over-reacting. The force’s professional standards department is investigating 21 complaints including a number of “serious allegations” against officers. Daily demos have seen protesters chain themselves to equipment and block the paths of lorries making deliveries to the heavily guarded site.

One protester claimed he had been left badly bruised after being pushed to the ground by police. On another occasion officers mounted a search of the makeshift camp after allegations that a flare was fired at a police helicopter flying overhead.

Sir Peter said the cost of policing the protest, which must be met out of existing budgets, was £660,000 and set to reach seven figures by the time the current exploratory drilling phase is completed in March. Last week it emerged that council tax payers in Greater Manchester were being asked to pay an extra £5 a year to counter £100m in cuts faced by the force.

Sir Peter said officers were constantly provoked and insulted during angry exchanges with anti-frackers. “We have to be there to ensure the protest is peaceful and to balance the rights of the protesters and those wanting to carry out drilling on the site which are both lawful activities. The police are stuck in the middle,” he said.

Local resident Helen Chuntso of Frack Free Greater Manchester said many of those taking part in the campaign were elderly. “On an average day there will be 30 peaceful protesters and 20 police vans full of officers,” she said. “One of the questions coming from local people is why they are paying out of the public purse for a private corporation to have that level of policing.”

A spokeswoman for IGas confirmed that it was not contributing towards the cost of the policing operation.

“Our priority is to try to ensure that there is minimal disruption to the residents and businesses of Barton Moss Road and the surrounding areas as we go about our operations, which have all the necessary planning and permitting consents,” she said.

The company has signed a deal with Peel Holdings, owner of MediaCity and the Manchester Ship Canal, to search for unconventional energy across its land in the North West of England.

After examining the results of the exploratory drilling, IGas could seek planning permission to conduct further flow tests at Barton Moss. The company estimates there could be up to 170 trillion cubic feet of gas in the region – the equivalent of more than 50 years of UK consumption. A two month anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, West Sussex last summer cost £3m in policing.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?