Latest news from the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) - May 2016 update

Dissent is not a crime

News from Netpol: May 2016

Anti-fracking protest at Balcombe

PHOTO: Randi Sokoloff | Shutterstock

Get Ready for a Summer of Resistance

The decision by North Yorkshire councillors to to approve plans for fracking by Third Energy in Ryedale has triggered a surge in anger across the country and renewed preparation for action by the anti-fracking movement.

Unfortunately, the immediate reaction by North Yorkshire Police was to warn of a crackdown on protests, saying it would “not tolerate criminal behaviour” and would “ensure public order is maintained.”

After Netpol highlighted our concerns about this unhelpful statement, a more conciliatory press release was eventually issued, but this did not stop the Police Federation in North Yorkshire talking about "potentially violent anti-fracking protests" as a reason to oppose planned cuts in police numbers

This is another reminder of prevailing negative attitudes within the police towards overwhelmingly peaceful anti-fracking protesters. This in turn has directly resulted in disproportionate and costly policing operations involve large numbers of officers, extensive intelligence gathering and unnecessarily aggressive policing tactics.

Netpol is calling on North Yorkshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan to consult widely with the public, and in particular those opposed to fracking, to draw up and publish a clear set of standards and expectations, agreed by the Chief Constable, for future protests.

A local plan must explain how North Yorkshire Police will exercise its positive duty to protect the right to participate in protest against fracking. Find out more about what we are seeking here.

Meanwhile, we have been busy helping campaigners to prepare for action. Working alongside member organisation Green & Black Cross, we have continued to provide know-your-rights training for anti-fracking activists, most recently in east Yorkshire.

Campaigners we have spoken to are keen to hold a Yorkshire-wide training day to teach local people to become legal observers. This is a vital role in any campaign: legal observers document the activities of the police and ensure basic essential legal rights information is distributed.

The scrutinising presence of legal observers has repeatedly had a positive impact in ensuring officers are more reluctant to make arbitrary arrests.

If members your anti-fracking group - or other campaigners locally - would like to take part in legal observer training in Yorkshire this summer, please contact Netpol coordinator Kevin Blowe at

For more information on our campaigning work on the policing of anti-fracking protest, see

This Saturday: come to the PREVENT, Islamophobia and Civil Liberties National Conference

One year ago the ‘Prevent duty’ became statutory through the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015: this imposed a duty on public bodies to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism” by actively implementing the government's 'counter-radicalisation' Prevent strategy.

For more information on the Prevent duty and students, watch this video.

This Saturday a conference at Goldsmiths, University of London, will examine the impact of this legislation and bring together the growing opposition to the duty by lecturers, teachers, lawyers, students, and community organisations.

Netpol is facilitating a workshop, 'Prevent and the attack on dissent', from 12.30pm. We hope you can come along and join the discussion.

For more details and to register, visit the conference website at


Can you spare £3 a month to support us?

We know there so many fantastic organisations seeking funds, but when we say Netpol runs on a shoestring, we really mean it. Can you spare just £3 a month to help support our campaigning activities?

You can find out how at - we really appreciate any help you can offer. 

Other News

Community Advocates challenge policing of High Wycombe EDL protest -  Saqib Deshmukh on a new report raising serious questions about the policing of April’s EDL march and counter-demonstration in High Wycombe . Read his guest post here.
Government unveils new ‘counter-extremist’ bill – but still cannot define what extremism actually means – Netpol's view on the government's recently announced Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill. More details here.
Pressure mounts on Sussex Police to explain involvement in monitoring of MP Caroline Lucas – a source close to the force said it was "almost certain" that Sussex officers would have shared information on the Brighton parliamentarian. Find out more here.

Why Wear Masks? – Merseyside's Nerve magazine asks anti-fascist and anti-racist organisers why covering their faces on protests has become so important. Read the article here.


The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) seeks to monitor public order, protest and street policing that is excessive, discriminatory or threatens civil rights. We are a network of activists, campaigners, lawyers and researchers sharing knowledge, experience and expertise to effectively challenge policing tactics and strategies that are damaging to the freedoms of all sections of our society.
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