Crackdown on protest

The Green MEP for the South East looks at a report exposing the dangers of policing on the freedom of protest, especially in local communities.

Keith Taylor

A new policing report revealed in November that there is an ongoing crackdown on the fundamental rights of British citizens. The 'Protecting the Protectors' report from the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) exposed the dangers of increasingly politically-charged policing on the freedom of protest, especially in respect of local communities demonstrating against fracking.

The planning of police operations for anti-fracking protests, the scale of intrusive surveillance against campaigners and the 'zero tolerance' approach to civil disobedience has had a chilling effect on the freedoms of assembly and expression, according to the report.

The findings are deeply concerning. Political pressure is being brought to bear on police forces to act as the legal enforcers in a fracking debate the government is losing.

Fracking is a dangerous and deeply unpopular method of fossil fuel extraction. The process has profound and acute impacts on local communities. The government, in its bid to fast-track fracking across the UK, appears to be employing bully- boy tactics in an attempt to silence dissent.

Public opposition to fracking has never been higher while support has never been lower. An authoritarian crackdown on British citizens' right to protest will not change that fundamental truth.