Lancashire

Lancashire Police tip off DWP with footage of fracking protestors

protestors march

A police force has been accused of spying after it passed on footage of disabled anti-fracking protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Lancashire Police said it had a "duty" to pass information on when "fraud may be being committed".

The DWP said it had "no formal arrangement" with police over tip-offs.

Anti-fracking protests have been held near Little Plumpton, Lancashire, since shale gas extraction was approved at the site in 2016.

A police spokesman said: "The DWP are a partner agency and where we have information to suggest that fraud may be being committed we have a duty to pass that on, including video footage if we have it."

The force said it accepted that people with disabilities have a right to protest and denied it was setting a dangerous precedent by passing on information.

"We will, of course, facilitate the right of anyone to protest lawfully," the spokesman added.

'Being spied on'

But Barbara Richardson, chairwoman of the anti-fracking Roseacre Awareness Group, who attends the protest up to three times a week, said people were "very angry" and felt they were being targeted by police.

She said: "I know some of the individuals concerned and they have got serious disabilities and come down to the roadside at considerable hardship to themselves."

"It just feels wrong, like they are being spied on. There are people who have genuine disabilities and mobility issues and they come here because they feel strongly about fracking," Ms Richardson said.

The DWP would not confirm whether it was investigating any new cases as a result of the information from police.

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