Anti-frackers ‘misinterpret’ terrorism link
DOCUMENTS revealing antifracking groups had been placed on a list of potential terrorism risks has been classed as ‘misinterpreted’ by Merseyside Police.
Anti-fracking groups were in shock after protesters were referenced in strategies used to counter terrorism.
New documents have been released that link shale gas opponents to extremism but Frack Free Formby say it undermines the right to peaceful protest.
Public documents from Yorkshire and other parts of the UK have included anti-fracking protests on lists of terrorism risk alongside armed groups such as the so-called Islamic State.
The documents include training materials compiled by local authorities as part of the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, Pre- vent.
Prevent was re-launched in 2011 by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary and aims to identify people who may be at risk of radicalisation or being drawn into terrorism.
Merseyside Police have played down the campaigners’ concerns.
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Kenwright from the Force Intelligence Bureau said: “Prevent is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism. It is one of the four elements of CONTEST, the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
“The document in question is a Prevent PowerPoint presentation, personally delivered by specialist Prevent officers to partners and local businesses to raise awareness and improve understanding of the potential threats to the UK.
“The slide in question is used as a prompt to discuss the range of behaviours from protest groups across the spectrum. It is not categorising all single issue protestors as extremists.
“Taken out of context, the slide alone can be misinterpreted. This slide would normally be discussed with the audience to ensure that balance is given. It is not about demonising legitimate lobbying groups or campaigners.
“The police respect the right to peaceful protest and this is made clear in the presentation delivery.”
Simon Maxwell from Frack Free Formby said: “The anti-fracking movement is all about peaceful protest so to link us to terrorist organisations is outrageous.
“All the people I know who oppose fracking are law-abiding people from all walks of life who share the same concerns about the damage that fracking will inflict on our health, environment and communities.
“We are not extremists and I ask that the Government and the police remove all references to anti-fracking campaigners from all Prevent policies and training materials with immediate effect.”