In an effort to secure special grant funding to ease pressure on Lancastrian police forces, the county's Police and Crime Commissioner has met with Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service to discuss covering the £6.8m cost of policing the ongoing fracking protests.
During his visit to Constabulary Headquarters, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw took the opportunity to outline the impact that a lack of government funding was having on policing in the North West at a time when the constabulary is being forced to manage increased crime and non-crime demand, including mental health and social care.
Meeting with Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, on July 31st, Mr Grunshaw spoke of the pressures on the service and to urged Mr Hurd MP to reconsider special grant funding to cover the costs of policing the ongoing fracking protests.
“I welcomed the opportunity to meet with Mr Hurd and to talk with him about the changing and challenging nature of police demand and to tell him first-hand about the impact of austerity," said Mr Grunshaw. "It was a positive meeting and I was encouraged by his understanding of the pressures on the service and his appreciation of all the hard work of officers and staff.
"I relayed to him my disappointment over residents in Lancashire being left to foot the bill for the fracking operation when the decision to allow fracking in Lancashire was made by Westminster and when European cup finals and even Donald Trump's visit have all seen a much higher proportion of the costs covered, if not all of them," Mr Grunshaw added.
"On behalf of Lancashire Constabulary and local residents I urged him to consider carefully future requests for support towards operational costs such as fracking to ensure that our police aren’t left short changed as a result of their work keeping people safe at the site."
Since January 2017, Lancashire has been policing daily protests at the Preston New Road site to ensure the safety of protesters, road users, and staff or contractors entering and leaving the site.
Mr Grunshaw has been lobbying Government for months over its decision to award Lancashire Constabulary just £1.4 million towards the £6.8m cost of policing fracking site, and it was pointing out to the Minister that this left the force to find the £5.4 million difference from existing budgets, impacting the front line.
Mr Hurd spent the day speaking with front-line officers at Preston before visiting force headquarters at Hutton where he met with Chief Constable Andy Rhodes and was given a tour of the new Forensic Services Academy.