Anti-frack­ers ‘mis­in­ter­pret’ ter­ror­ism link

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY JENNY KIRKHAM jenny.kirkham@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @PJ_Kirkham

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.”

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