Video showing Lancashire Police joking about the arrest of an anti-fracking protester has been put online. Apparently unaware that a confiscated phone was still recording, officers in the footage can be heard laughing about the arrest of Louise Boyle as they say it “distracted [5:20]” protesters and enabled lorries to enter the gates of the fracking site at Preston New Road (PNR). A second video that the police tried to delete apparently records an officer assaulting Boyle.
Creating a diversion
The nine-minute video was made by Debbie Jackson and shows Boyle being put into the back of a police van, arrested for breaching public order [3:11]. Jackson’s phone is then forcefully confiscated by officers:
But Jackson’s video does not end there. Though there is little to look at, the audio makes for interesting listening. Conversation between two or more officers in the van shows them laughing about Boyle’s arrest. From the five minute mark, one can be heard saying:
It was probably better to get her when she was away from the big group… I think it happened at just the right time to allow the vehicles to go in. It kind of like distracted them. I think we should do that more, just as they’re coming in.
Boyle was released late at night on 25 August without charge.
Jackson’s phone was returned to her with the recording still intact. The same can’t be said of a second video, allegedly showing Police Sergeant (PS) 322 assaulting Boyle. When she was eventually released without charge, she reclaimed her possessions and found the video of her assault was missing. The police had deleted it from her phone. Or so they thought.
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You meddling kids
Boyle has files on her phone automatically uploaded to cloud storage platform OneDrive, meaning the footage was recovered despite police attempts to remove it from her phone.
Near the start of this six-minute video, after a scuffle, Boyle can be heard asking [0:40] PS 322:
You see what you’ve just done to my arm?
Boyle’s arm is then seen in shot. It appears to show red marks in the flesh and a scratch or cut across the skin.
On 26 August, Jackson uploaded photos of her cut and bruised arms, which she says was caused by police forcefully confiscating her phone.
The Canary approached Lancashire Police with the allegations. A spokesman said:
We are aware of these videos and they have been referred to our Professional Standards Department.
At this stage it would be inappropriate to comment further.
The price of violence
Police at PNR have come under increasing scrutiny over the past few months. The Canary has previously reported on the “brutality” and “gratuitous violence” being used by police at the site. And in July, the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) released A Chilling Effect on Freedom to Protest, documenting many instances of violent policing against anti-fracking protesters.
Meanwhile, the cost of policing was revealed in April to be £450,000 a month, with additional non-officer-based costs coming in at £625,000 from January to June. This has led to “cash-strapped” Lancashire Police being branded as “stormtroopers” for site operators Cuadrilla. On 26 August, Jenny Jones (a Green Party peer in the House of Lords) bluntly made a point about these increasingly outrageous costs:
— Jenny Jones (@GreenJennyJones) August 26, 2017
Questions that need answers
But this latest story brings up other important question about the way PNR is being policed. Deleting a video that could potentially incriminate an officer is destroying evidence; was she singled out for arrest with the intention of hiding such evidence? And officers clearly heard discussing the use of arrests as a diversionary tactic must raise questions about the role of policing at PNR and why so much money is being spent on it?
As drilling gets underway, this small stretch of country road in northern England remains the frontline in one of the UK’s most important struggles today.
Watch the first video here (strong language):
And the second video (strong language):
– Stay updated on the Facebook group Blackpool and Fylde Community Protection Camps.
– Support Preston New Road Action Group.
– Learn more with Frack Off.
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