Fracking protests 'stretching' Lancashire Police

Police at Preston New Road
Image caption Ms Baines said the force was facing an "additional demand" due to the fracking protests

Anti-fracking protests have left a police force using "a lot of overtime" to "maintain normal services", a police federation has said.

Protests have been held near Little Plumpton, Lancashire, since shale gas extraction was approved in 2016.

Lancashire Police Federation chairwoman Rachel Baines said, as a result, the force was "going to be stretched throughout the summer".

The Home Office said the force would "continue to have" necessary resources.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw expressed concern about the "strain" on "already depleted resources", adding that he believed the government should pick up the cost of extra policing as it had granted the licence.

Image copyright LancsPCC
Image caption Mr Grunshaw met anti-fracking protesters on a recent visit to Preston New Road

Planning permission for energy firm Cuadrilla to carry out fracking at the Preston New Road site was initially declined by Lancashire County Council, but that decision was overturned by Communities Minister Sajid Javid in October.

Ms Baines said due to the "additional demand", there was "a lot of overtime being used in order to maintain normal services to the public".

"If we've got to spend money on this, it means we can't spend money on other things," she said.

Mr Grunshaw said he had written to Mr Javid because he was concerned about the "substantial abstraction of officers", adding: "The already depleted resources we have and the numbers of officers in places like Burnley, Chorley and Blackpool are being reduced."

Image caption Protests have been held regularly near the Preston New Road site since work began in January

He said the cost was "already significant", with the bill standing at "hundreds of thousands of pounds".

He added that the Home Office would allow an application for extra funding when costs reached £2.6m, but "my argument is that we shouldn't have to wait for that".

A Home Office spokesman said Lancashire Police "will continue to have the resources they need to cut crime and keep our communities safe".

He added the force would get "around £260m in the police funding settlement, providing they maximise the precept".

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