THE SHAMEFUL AND UNACCEPTABLE PRACTICES AWARD
GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE
It was just over four years ago when fracking company, IGas, arrived at Barton Moss in Salford, only to met with six months of protests by local people and anti-fracking campaigners...and an over-the-top presence by Greater Manchester Police and its Tactical Aid Unit (TAU).
What followed were constant complaints about police harassment, dubious arrests and the discarding of the right to protest. It was in February 2014, that a woman was handcuffed and dragged through a field by the TAU, and lay on the floor for 45 minutes before an ambulance arrived. Witness, Diane, told the Salford Star at the time "They were just hitting everybody. It was chaos…horrendous…" (see here)
After these events, solicitor and legal observer, Simon Pook, announced that he was calling in the United Nations to investigate...
"What I have witnessed today at Barton Moss has confirmed my greatest fear" Pook told the Salford Star "...A fear that Greater Manchester Police appear to have discarded the European Convention of Human Rights into the gutter, and replaced it with political policing, re-enforced with overt aggression."
After this incident, there were loads more, including the same woman targeted in front of the gathered media (see here), a Salford schoolgirl arrested for 'slow walking' (see here) and numerous other arrests and charges, most of which were subsequently dropped or thrown out of court.
In July 2017, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Maina Kiai, issued the report of "instances of use of excessive force by police against protesters"...
"It is reported that Greater Manchester Police frequently pushed and shoved peaceful, protesters, stood on their heels, dug their knuckles in their backs, pushed them down the road and verbally harassed them" the Special Rapporteur reported "Police officers also targeted a number of protesters – including young, elderly and disabled people – for allegedly triggering a 'violent response' from fellow demonstrators.
"Even more disturbing, male police officers reportedly engaged in sexual harassment with female protesters, inter alia insulting them, groping their private parts, and pressing their genitals against them while walking in a line" he added "As a result, many female protesters felt frightened and violated. Unnecessary strip searches were also allegedly performed.
"The Special Rapporteur finds these practices shameful and totally unacceptable" he concluded (see here).
The United Nations report followed another investigation called Keep Moving! by researchers from John Moores University in Liverpool and the University of York, which catalogued a whole series of police indiscretions and the 'dubious legality' of arrests. There were also eye witness and photographic accounts of TAU practices throughout the protests covered by the Salford Star and loads of Facebook groups.
Commenting on the United Nations report, Simon Pook told the Salford Star: "This is the second independent report and both reports make difficult reading about how GMP discharged its duty to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.
"The only report to find the policing had no case to answer was that overseen by Tony Lloyd the then Police and Crime Commissioner" he explained "The United Nations report is particularly important as it holds the Government to account for the policing at Barton Moss."
Indeed, throughout the Barton Moss protests, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner did nothing and said nothing in support of those being brutalised at the anti-fracking demonstrations (see here).
Similarly, not one single Salford councillor, nor the Salford City Mayor, even bothered to visit the site to see for themselves what was happening to their own citizens, despite constant pleas.
It turned out, via a Freedom of Information response to police monitoring organisation, Netpol, that, behind the scenes, Salford City Council was actually colluding with IGas, GMP, Peel Holdings and other organisations, sharing intelligence, communications and branding.
A Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up setting out the "ongoing cooperation and co-ordination between the Parties in order to promote and contribute to their mutual interests" etc etc (see here).
Responding to the United Nations report, Simon Pook concluded: "It is clear that the policing at Barton Moss must never be repeated; if it is repeated then the police and the state must be held to account via the judicial process..."
Why is all this still relevant? Apart from police practices at other anti-fracking sites across the UK, just before Christmas local Irlam councillor, Roger Jones, told Moss Farm Fisheries owner, Alan Whitehead, in a Facebook interview that the frackers will be back at Barton Moss...
"I don't think fracking will go away because they've done all the tests and we've heard nothing from them since but their attitude has always been 'We've got to get the gas out of the ground'" he said "So they may come back next year on fracking, they may not come back for another four or five years, but sooner or later I'm not in any doubt that they will come back..."
So, ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses - and anything else that appears on a public footpath – put the kettle on and drink in the wonderful democracy that engulfs us for the winner of the Salford Star Mary Burns Shameful and Unacceptable Practices Award...
Greater Manchester Police!!!
If someone from GMP would like to make an acceptance speech, please use the comments box below...
Winners of 2017 Salford Star Mary Burns Awards...
Feed The Rich Award (part 1) – Fred Done – click here
Disappearing Salford Award – Villafont – click here
Dick Turpin Award For Services to Bridge Hold Ups – Peel Holdings – click here
Carly Simon Award For Vanity – Councillor Derek Antrobus – click here
Feed The Rich Award (part 2) – Conservative Government and the HCA – click here
Corbynista Council of the Year – Salford City Council and Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett – click here
Grenfell Tower Urgency Award – Salford City Council – click here
Uncle Joe Stalin Award for Open and Democratic Government – Salford City Council – click here
Self Destruction Award – Salford UKIP – click here
Our Friends In The North Memorial Prize – Salford City Council – click here