A victory for the Scottish Green Party MSPs and anti-fracking protesters across Scotland

Patrick Harvie at Holyrood speaking about anti-fracking campaigners
Brian Finlay

On 24 September, Scottish Green Party MSPs received some good news. It came after Police Scotland confirmed it no longer planned to label anti-fracking protesters as “domestic extremists”. The Ferret reported on 16 September that Police Scotland had previously included those who peacefully oppose fracking “alongside banned neo-Nazi terrorist groups, Scottish Dawn and National Action”.

However, Scottish Green Party co-convenor and MSP Partick Harvie raised the concern at Scottish First Ministers Questions (FMQs) on 20 September.

Heroes

Harvie said, both in an article and in the Scottish parliament: “anti-fracking campaigners who exercise their democratic right to protest are heroes”:

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon agreed, saying that she defended the rights of peaceful campaigners.

Police Scotland and Green MSPs

As The National reports, a senior Police Scotland official has now written to the Scottish Parliament’s justice sub-committee on policing. He did so to clarify the labelling of anti-fracking protesters. Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry Mclean wrote:

The Police Scotland Annual Police Plan for 2017/18 did contain the following commentary: ‘There continues to be protests around shale oil and gas extraction and unconventional oil and gas extraction, and unconventional oil and gas extraction, both commonly referred to as ‘fracking’.’

This paragraph was contained within a wider and diverse section of the annual police plan under the heading of Domestic Extremism.

He went on to say:

Police Scotland does not consider any form of lawful and peaceful protest to constitute domestic extremism; however, we accept that from a presentational perspective a misinterpretation of this position may have been given from the way this small section of the annual police plan was worded and presented.

No such reference is contained in the current Annual Police Plan for 2018/19

Scottish Green Party MSP and justice sub-committee on policing convener John Finnie welcomed the actions of Police Scotland:

The right to lawful and peaceful protest is an integral part of our society.

Law-abiding citizens who wish to protest peacefully should not have to be concerned about the threat – perceived or real – of being labelled a domestic extremist.

Good news

Finnie took to Twitter to share the developments:

Pressure group Frackfree_EU also tweeted, sharing the “good news from Scotland”:

So it’s a victory for anti-fracking protesters across Scotland and for the Scottish Green Party MSPs. Furthermore, let’s hope Police Scotland has set a precedent for other police forces across the UK.

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Featured Image via BBC Scotland News/Twitter

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Brian Finlay