Gold strategy

Date published: 08 March 2019 09:30

The overall aim of this operation is to provide an impartial and proportionate policing response to potential protests in relation to the lawful activities of energy companies and associated contractors, engaging in shale gas associated activities within South Yorkshire communities and other identified areas.

South Yorkshire Police is committed to this operation being conducted with transparency and independence,  as outlined in the gold strategy. As part of that approach, the gold strategy is published below.

Gold Strategy

Operation Present

ACC David Hartley 03/12/18

Strategic Aim

The overall aim of this operation is to provide an impartial and proportionate policing response to protests in relation to the lawful activities of energy companies and associated contractors engaging in shale gas associated activities within South Yorkshire communities and other identified areas.

We will do this in line with our core policing responsibilities of:

- The protection of life and property

- The prevention and detection of crime and disorder

- The maintenance of the Queen's Peace

We will deliver our whole policing approach in line with the values of South Yorkshire Police, and in line with our Code of Ethics, with key focus on our impartiality, transparency, integrity and clear public service.


Strategic Objectives

Following the phased and multi-dimensional threat, harm and risk assessment conducted by the Silver commander, the following hierarchical objectives are set by the Gold police commander, to underpin the overall strategic intent, we will endeavour to:

  1. Work with partners and stakeholders to take all necessary steps to minimise the risk to life detailed within the ECHR articles of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988.

  1. Minimise the risk of harm to members of the public, energy company staff, associated security/agents and to any protestor or campaigner.
  2. Work with partners and stakeholders taking all reasonable steps to minimise the risk to property and minimise the opportunity for crime and disorder, outlined within the ECHR articles of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988 and other relevant legislation.
  3. Work with criminal justice partners to ensure that anyone committing a criminal offence is dealt with proportionately.
  4. Take, so far as is reasonable, all measures to maximise the safety of police employees, outlined within The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and relevant secondary legislation.

  1. Taking account of the High Court Civil Injunction and the associated qualified ECHR articles outlined in Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988, relating to the enjoyment of business interests, expression, assembly, and community life, we will endeavour to use our operational discretion and ensure our actions are proportionate, lawful, necessary, ethical and in accordance with ECHR Article 17 of The Human Rights Act, 1988 Schedule 1.
  2. Work with partners and other stakeholders in an effort to provide a no surprise operation, being transparent and sharing rationale for action wherever appropriate to inspire trust and confidence.
  3. Develop a conventional and digital media plan to inform, in line with priority 7.

Supporting Rationale in relation to the Strategic Objectives.

  1. Work with partners and stakeholders to take all necessary steps to minimise the risk to life detailed within the ECHR articles of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988.

SYP will endeavour to achieve a balance between the rights of energy companies and those wishing to protest for, and against, this activity, whilst also taking cognisance of the rights of the local businesses and communities to go about their lawful business.

Prioritised against any of these rights, is the right to life under Article 2 of Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988.

 

This operation includes the movement and operation of heavy industry, and the passage of such traffic providing logistical support. Risk to life can emerge where direct action protest extends to the field of operation of dangerous equipment or environment.

 

Whilst it is the commercial companies’ responsibility to manage health and safety at work, any risk to life, or risk of harm/assault relating to the protest/counter protest is our core responsibility, with partner support.

 

McCann and Other v UK Public Authorities must plan operations in a way that minimises the need to use force, ensuring that the least intrusive options are selected by the planners and commanders.

 

Robinson v Chief Constable West Yorkshire Police February 2018 . The police do owe a duty of care to third parties who are subject to conditions that have been created by the police.

 

This will always be prioritised.

  1. Minimise the risk of harm to members of the public, energy company staff, associated security/agents and to any protestor or campaigner.

 

Whilst carrying out policing operations, we have a positive duty to protect people from harm, inhuman and degrading treatment.

This includes a negative obligation not to inflict suffering on a human as well as a positive obligation to ensure that suffering is not endured owing to the actions of third parties.

 

These obligations are outlined within the ECHR articles of Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988.

 

There is also a procedural obligation to investigate in certain circumstances.

  1. Work with partners and stakeholders taking all reasonable steps to minimise the risk to property and minimise the opportunity for crime and disorder, outlined within the ECHR articles of Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988 and other relevant legislation.

We will do this in line with our core policing responsibilities of protecting of life and property, preventing and detecting crime and disorder and maintaining the Queen's Peace.

 

Within the Human Rights Act 1988, Schedule 1, Article 1 Protocol 1 states – Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided by law.

This right applies to companies as well as individuals.

  1. Work with criminal justice partners to ensure that anyone committing a criminal offence is dealt with proportionately.

The specific concern of Article 5 ECHR contained within Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988 is that no one should be deprived of liberty in an arbitrary fashion (unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority).

 

Austin and Saxby stated case relates to Article 5 ECHR, where it was found that the containment in that case did not breach the article.

 

Austin Saxby outlines guidance for police when considering a containment but in this operation Article 5 ECHR may be more relevant when examining arrest powers and the necessity to arrest.

 

In the R v Hicks Supreme Court judgement of Feb 2017, the arrests to prevent a breach of the peace were found lawful ‘in order to secure the fulfilment of an obligation prescribed by law’.

 

Lord Toulson stated ‘Article 5 ECHR must not be interpreted in a way so as to make it impractical for the police to perform their duty to maintain public order and protect lives and property of others.’

 

Article 6 ECHR Right to a fair trial - The importance of this right is that all other rights depend upon the proper administration of justice.

 

The investigative strategy needs to be cognisant of Article 5 ECHR in relation to necessity and proportionality with regard to arrest and Article 8 issues, relating to how we gather evidence on groups or individuals involved, including compliance with disclosure procedures should people be processed through the criminal justice system.

  1. Take, so far as is reasonable, all measures to maximise the safety of police employees, outlined within The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and relevant secondary legislation.

SYP has a duty of care towards its own staff who are deployed as part of this operation to achieve the strategic objectives within the tactical plan, this is in relation to The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and relevant secondary legislation.

 

Whilst it is important to recognise that all risks cannot be mitigated in policing, and that the role of the police is to absorb degrees of risk to perform their duties and protect the public, we do have a duty to provide the right capability in terms of training, equipment, planning and briefing of staff.

 

Further to that, the staff have their own responsibilities in managing health and safety in the workplace.

 

This is designed to minimise the levels of risk encountered whilst achieving the strategic intentions.

  1. Taking account of the High Court Civil Injunction and the associated qualified ECHR articles outlined in Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988 relating to the enjoyment of business interests, expression, assembly, and community life, we will endeavour to

use our operational discretion and ensure our actions are proportionate, lawful, necessary, ethical and in accordance with Article 17 of the Act.

The High Court, through the granting of the INEOS injunction, has already determined and injuncted against named protestor activity, which informs police considerations when balancing competing qualified rights.

 

The court has made that judgement.

 

If protesters carry out actions that contravene the injunction they will have difficulty in relying on Articles 10 and 11 as a defence for those actions.

 

The police are not bound by the injunction as it does not relate to them and nothing in the injunction removes police operational discretion, however due consideration must be given to the High Court Injunction.

 

Outside of the injunction we will continue to balance competing rights (ECHR Articles 8,9,10,&11) - and reference Article 17 of ECHR, outlined within The Human Rights Act 1998, Schedule 1.

 

Article 17 of ECHR contained within Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act 1988 states -

Nothing in the convention may be interpreted as implying for any state, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set out in the convention.

 

In Norwood v UK (2004) the defendant claimed that his Article 10 rights had been breached following his arrest and conviction for displaying a poster, which was judged to be a racially aggravated public order offence.

 

His appeal was dismissed. The judges found that his attempt to use Article 10 to defend his actions amounted to an abuse of rights.

  1. Work with partners and other stakeholders in an effort to provide a no surprise operation, being transparent and sharing rationale for action wherever appropriate to inspire trust and confidence.

In order to ensure our actions are proportionate and necessary, we should provide individuals and communities with information and details of our plans and/or intentions where appropriate.

 

This is in an effort to allow an individual/group to make informed decisions regarding their actions, and to be transparent as to police actions, to inspire trust, even when police activity may not be preferred.

  1. Develop a conventional and digital media plan to inform in line with priority 7.

Ensure our conventional media plan with radio, TV and local newspapers is developed and coordinated alongside our digital approach to managing social media – embedding all the recommendations from the Trees Protest Advisory Panel for Protest report in relation to media contact.

Command Protocols


In delivering the strategic aim and objectives, the Silver Commander will endeavour to:


  1. Establish the risks and threats to the operation by effectively and proactively securing and assessing all available intelligence and information and engaging fully in the risk assessment process. This will include intelligence gathering through liaison with, community stakeholders, open source intelligence, industry stakeholders and social media as well as any other relevant sources.
  2. Establish a command and control structure commensurate with the threat and risk assessment.
  3. In conjunction with partners and other stakeholders, establish and implement a proportionate policing operation that deals with identified and foreseeable risks.
  4. Work with partners and other stakeholders to build and deliver an effective community engagement strategy. This will prioritise the role of Protest Liaison Officers.
  5. Put in place an appropriate investigation capability for the operation with an effective criminal justice process. This should include an ability to deal with any offences occurring both in advance of and during any phase of the energy companies operations, as well as any disorder issues at the proposed sites or within affected communities.
  6. Through close liaison with partners, and other relevant stakeholders, ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the police, partners, and other stakeholders are clearly defined throughout the operation and ensure that partners, and other stakeholders, are aware of the policing plans.
  7. Establish an effective media plan to reassure and engage local communities. This will include conventional media sources, explanatory leaflets and the sharing of our actions and rationale on websites and social media.
  8. Ensure that the police plans and activity are proportionate and cost-effective, looking to achieve maximum value for money without reducing the effectiveness of the operation. They should also ensure that ‘business as usual’ can continue with minimal disruption and that all costs are recorded for audit purposes.
  9. Ensure that all Police Commanders and staff and appropriately trained and accredited, and any decisions made and the rationale behind those decisions properly recorded.

Command Parameter


South Yorkshire Police will not tolerate slow walks upon the public highway as per the prohibitions of the civil injunction.


In doing so, we recognise the judgement of the Honourable Mr. Justice Morgan, which states:


“It is perhaps implicit in the protestors’ wish not to remain stationary on the highway that they recognise that to do so would have amounted to an unreasonable use of the highway. In any event, I think that it is likely that on application for a final injunction, a court would take a view that standing still in order to block the passage of vehicles on a highway because the vehicles are being used for a purpose to which the protesters objects would not be reasonable use of the highway. If so, I simply do not see that the somewhat token amount of movement involved in slow walking would change a legal assessment of the protesters action.”

The protesters are doing much more than expressing their opinions about the undesirability of fracking. They are taking direct action against the fracking operators in an attempt to make them stop their fracking activities. It would not be surprising in such a case that the court would take the view that balancing the entitlement of freedom of expression and assembly against the rights of others the balance should be struck in favour of protecting the rights of others from a direct interference with those rights.”  

Policing Style

The policing style of this operation must recognise the High Court Judges ruling and comments in relation to ECHR Articles 10 & 11 contained within Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988 as being qualified rights, whilst assessing the threat of disruption to the shale gas exploration/extraction activities and the impact that it has on local communities.

Whilst we should predominantly have a neighbourhood policing style, there should be capacity for increased visible patrols and specialist resources at locations of significance where appropriate.


Preferred and acceptable outcomes

The preferred outcome for this operation is for the shale gas exploration/extraction operations within South Yorkshire communities and other identified areas take place without public disorder or criminal offences. There will be minimal disruption to local communities and businesses.


An acceptable outcome is for there to be limited sporadic incidents of minor disorder and minor offending which can be contained locally without jeopardising the safety of the public or police or energy company staff or contractors.


Considerations

In developing this strategy, I have at all times considered the need to act with integrity and in accordance with the police Code of Ethics.

I have considered the core responsibilities of the police to protect life and property, preserve the peace and to prevent and detect crime.


I have in particular considered the impact of ECHR Articles in Schedule 1 of The Human Rights Act 1988, specifically the positive obligations upon the police service and other statutory agencies to protect life.


I have also recognised the High Court ruling, the comments of Mr. Justice Morgan in relation to the Human Rights Act, in granting a Civil Injunction and I have sought legal advice in relation to the injunction to inform my decision-making processes.


David Hartley ACC