Green Party call for action on Barton Moss Police brutality

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Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jones of Mouslecoomb and North West Green Party’s Peter Cranie have written to Greater Manchester Police Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, to request a meeting to discuss the ‘appalling’ police tactics used at Barton Moss.

After last week’s brutal arrest and detention of mother, Vanda Gillett, at Barton Moss and Saturday’s protest at Swinton Police station, key Green Party figures have written to raise party members’ concerns over policing at the site. Many Green Party members have been very active in the daily protests and have become increasingly concerned over the behaviour of Greater Manchester Police’s Tactical Aid Unit.

Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb and prospective North West MEP, Peter Cranie, also raise concerns that the Independent Protest Panel, set up to investigate policing at the site, was not given the full picture when it visited the site last week (20th March 2014). The panel members stayed behind police lines and the Tactical Aid Unit was either not deployed during their visit or was not exercising as much force as usual. The Salford Star reports that as soon as the Panel had left policing in the afternoon reverted back to a more typical pattern (1).

The letter calls on Commissioner Tony Lloyd to acknowledge the concerns over policing at Barton Moss in public and urges him to address them.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, said: “While we have different political positions on fracking, this is a civil liberty issue and about policing in a democratic country. The actions that are taking place are simply unacceptable and as Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Llloyd is accountable.”

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb said: “The Police do a difficult job under severe pressure, but what has been witnessed at Barton Moss looks far more like corporate protection, without limits, than the policing that local communities want in the streets to protect them from crime. Policing must be fair and proportionate, and the Police must protect the democratic right to protest, not suppress it.”

Peter Cranie, North West Green Party’s European election candidate, said: “These are non-violent protestors. No one is attacking the police. The anti-fracking movement is non-violent, yet the treatment handed out to these protestors is appalling. Tony Lloyd must act. It is his job to do so and his responsibility. By failing to get involved he is accepting responsibility for the actions of the officers who are badly letting down Greater Manchester Police.”

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb is also writing to the Metropolitan Police to ask if any of their officers are being deployed at Barton Moss.

GREENS URGE POLICE TO EXERCISE RESTRAINT AT BARTON MOSS

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Peter Cranie, the North West Green Party’s European election candidate,  urged Greater Manchester police to exercise restraint at  protests at the Barton Moss anti-fracking protest camp.. Peter Cranie, the Green Party’s lead candiate, took  part in the protest on Sunday 12 January, along with Green Party members from across the north west.

Peter Cranie has previously written to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester highlighting his concerns over the policing of the anti-fracking protest at Barton Moss, Salford. He is concerned about the heavy-handedness of police officers towards protestors, including the unnecessary arrest of a fellow North West Green Party European election candidate, Laura Bannister, from Manchester. Earlier this week eleven anti-fracking protestors were aquitted of obstructing the highway at similar protests in Balcombe, West Sussex.

Peter Cranie said: “This protest will show the strength of opposition to fracking in Greater Manchester and across the north west. People are travelling from all over the UK to send a strong warning to the government that they can’t just impose fracking on local communities. Fracking won’t bring down energy prices or create many jobs, and it won’t help tackle climate change. Instead what’s desperately needed is investment in home insulation and renewable energy. Fracking will increase traffic, deplete water supplies and could pollute our air and water. The Green Party’s message is clear; we don’t need it and we don’t want it – there are much better solutions to our energy crisis.”

He continued: “The anti-fracking demonstrations at Barton Moss have been over-policed and police have been too heavy-handed. One of our European election candidates, Laura Bannister, was arrested simply for walking too slowly and in the last few days police have unnecessarily threatened an 82 year old Green Party member with arrest. The recent aquittal of people demonstrating against fracking in Balcombe suggests that those taking part in peaceful protest are not breaking the law.”

The cost of the policing operation at Barton Moss is not yet known, but the North West Green Party believes that significantly fewer police officers could be deployed. In a letter sent last month to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, Mr Cranie called on him to re-direct his reources to the local community in Salford, rather than the protection of a profitable private company. He urged Mr Lloyd to ensure the drilling company, IGas, contributes to its own security costs, rather than relying on the tax-payer to fund the police operation.