£73,000 police operation so far at Balcombe Cuadrilla site

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Police say the Cuadrilla Balcombe operation, after two weeks, has so far cost £73,000 in logistical support and overtime.

They say they now are responding to the latest information that the number of protesters will increase at the Cuadrilla site in Balcombe.

It has been reported that protesters from the Reclaim the Power camp are moving their annual event from West Burton to set up near the village from August 16-21.

Police say that they are formed from a wide range of groups and people from environmental, economic and social justice networks and although numbers are not confirmed, there could be a few hundred.

Supt Lawrence Hobbs, who leads Neighbourhood Policing for West Sussex, is heading the policing operation.

He said: “We are now two weeks into the policing operation and our Police Liaison Officers at the site have worked hard to engage with the protesters there and enable them to safely and peacefully protest.

“The protesters are aware of our role and what is acceptable and what is not and as a result of this understanding and on-going open communication, direct action has been kept to a minimum and arrests have been few.

“We are aware that groups of protesters from various networks propose to come to join the site at Balcombe from the end of next week.

“Our Protest Liaison Officers are looking to be in contact with the organisers, to listen to them, inform them of what we expect from them while they are in Sussex and support their peaceful protest.

“We have a week to plan for their proposed arrival and in that time will be engaging with them to ensure their safety and the continued business of Cuadrilla.

“My officers are there to enable protesters to peacefully protest, to minimise disruption and to allow the company to go about it’s legal business. Given the strong views of all parties it will be a challenge for us to balance all of their needs but we are experienced through our extensive management of protests.

“The Reclaim the Power camp has publicised that they will share ideas, strengthen links and share skills in direct action and civil disobedience to take action against the Cuadrilla site. We know that the vast majority of protesters feel very passionately about issues and will protest peacefully. If protesters choose to become violent and commit any criminal act they should understand that this is not acceptable and they will be arrested.

“I am mindful that the protest is having an impact on the whole community and we are doing our best to uphold the law and keep everyone safe.

“Our plans for this operation are being constantly reviewed and resources are being adapted as necessary. About 100 officers a day are currently policing the site and we have the support of mutual aid from forces in the South East to provide us with resilience.

“The operation started on 25 July and is now on its 14th day. The operation until now has cost £73,000 in logistical support and overtime. This does not include the salary cost of officers deployed. I will continue to resource the policing of the protest to the lowest level to achieve our aims whilst maintaining operational resilience across Sussex.”