Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

GMP cleared of brutality at Barton Moss anti-fracking protests – but 'truth still out there', say campaigners

GMP cleared of brutality at Barton Moss anti-fracking protests – but 'truth still out there', say campaigners

| By Lauren Woods

Anti-fracking protesters claim a report clearing Greater Manchester Police of brutality towards them fails to uncover 'the truth' of arrests made at Barton Moss. 

An independent report into how GMP have dealt with protests has recommended ‘building trust’ between both police and protesters but cleared the police of brutality.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd set up the independent panel to examine the policing of protests and demonstrations as a whole, as Manchester has seen protests on global issues like Gaza, Hong Kong and against Isis in recent months.

Martin Porter of Frack Free Greater Manchester said: “We thank the panel for their work, but the report shows just how many important questions remain unanswered.

“Despite feelings against the police running very high, despite the excessive force used on the daily ‘slow walks’ and despite the police treating everyone who turned up like a criminal, this was a peaceful protest.

“For Greater Manchester Police to then claim that these peaceful protesters launched a terrorist attack is totally unacceptable. We must find out the truth of this matter. If this story was made up to discredit peaceful protesters and justify repressive policing, then there must be consequences.”

The report recommends that GMP should look into using independent mediators when dealing with protestors and may invite a nominated representative from the protestors into the police control room to build trust and ensure transparency.

Martin Miller, Chair of the Independent Panel, said: “This is not about finger-pointing or blame, it is about giving constructive, valuable feedback to the police, public bodies and also the protesters involved so that lessons can be learned and the management of future protests can be improved.

“Although there were many things that were done right, we found that many of the issues could have been mitigated or resolved by better pre-planning and more constructive communications and engagement with the protesters and wider public.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd added: “The police have a duty to ensure that people’s right to protest peacefully is facilitated and respected and, although Greater Manchester Police has a good record in policing protests, this is a frequent challenge.

“The Barton Moss protest was particularly complex and contentious and, amid the legitimate public concerns raised, it was clear that independent scrutiny of this operation was needed in order to build trust and public confidence in our police service."

The results of this report have not seemed to subdue the call for a judge-led public inquiry into how the police have handled the situation at Barton Moss.

Posting on their Facebook page, Barton Moss Community Protection Camp said: "No surprise there when police once again clear themselves of any wrongdoing."

Shirley Barnes said: "So the fact that all the arrests they made were thrown out of court but there doing nothing wrong?

"That alone is abuse of power and bringing the police name into disrepute is it not? Never mind the assaults and intimidation! But did I expect anything else? No."

Stephen Wilkinson said: "Strange isn't it how the very laws these people are payed to uphold and enforce are not applied to themselves or enforced on themselves which allows them to operate with impunity."

Image courtesy of Charles Veitch via YouTube with thanks