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Fracking linked to rise in Blackpool crime

Police at the Preston New Road fracking site.
Police at the Preston New Road fracking site.
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The impact of policing the Lancashire fracking operation on crime-fighting in Blackpool has been questioned after a rise in offences.

The community safety performance report for April 2017 to March 2018 shows all crime in the resort during this time has increased by 19.4 per cent.

Paolo Pertica

Paolo Pertica

Violence against the person is up by 36 per cent, including serious assaults up by 15 per cent.

However burglary is down by 1.4 per cent and vehicle offences have reduced by just less than 10 per cent.

The figures were presented to a meeting of Blackpool Council’s tourism, economy and resources committee.

Coun Paul Galley asked if the increase was a reflection of the amount of police resources being used to protect Cuadrilla’s fracking site on Preston New Road from protesters.

He said: “Does fracking take up so much of the constabulary’s resources that they don’t have the money to police Blackpool?

“When I speak to officers on the ground, they think so. It’s a question I would like to be asked of senior officers.

“Only by getting a clear answer can we go to government and say we need your support.

“At the moment the taxpayers of Lancashire are subsidising Cuadrialla. If they were a football club, they would have to pay.”

Paolo Pertica, head of community safety strategy at the council, said the figures were in line with rises seen all over the country.

But he also told the meeting: “It would be naive to suggest the demand the management of fracking has generated has not had any impact at all.”

He said initially only Western division officers had policed the fracking site, but this was now shared by all three police divisions in Lancashire.

Mr Pertica said the increase in crime could also be put down to more people being encouraged to report crime, particularly victims of domestic violence and sexual offences.

Officers also have to record crimes within 24 hours instead of 76 hours, so incidents which may subsequently have been found not to be a crime, are being recorded.

Mr Pertica added: “If there had been increases only in Blackpool, that would be a concern. But the increases are across Lancashire and nationally.”

Cost so far

Lancashire Police said the cost of policing the fracking site now stands at more than £7.3m.

The force requested £6.8m from the Home Office to meet the costs of the operation in 2017/18 but was granted just £1.4m.