New police plan drops domestic extremist label for anti-fracking campaigners
Police have cut a section labelling anti-fracking campaigners as domestic terrorists from their annual plan.
The 2017/18 plan sparked a row as fracking protesters were included under the heading “domestic extremists”.
Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie raised the issue at Holyrood, saying the campaigners are “heroes” and questioning the treatment of peaceful demonstrators.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said peaceful campaigners should not be considered extremists.
Now a senior Police Scotland official has written to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing to confirm the 2018/19 annual plan has no reference to fracking campaigners under the heading domestic extremists.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry Mclean wrote: “The Police Scotland Annual Police Plan for 2017/18 did contain the following commentary: ‘There continues to be protests around shale oil and gas extraction and unconventional oil and gas extraction, and unconventional oil and gas extraction, both commonly referred to as ‘fracking’.’
“This paragraph was contained within a wider and diverse section of the annual police plan under the heading of Domestic Extremism.
“Police Scotland does not consider any form of lawful and peaceful protest to constitute domestic extremism; however, we accept that from a presentational perspective a misinterpretation of this position may have been given from the way this small section of the annual police plan was worded and presented.
“No such reference is contained in the current Annual Police Plan for 2018/19.”
Sub-committee convener John Finnie welcomed the confirmation.
He said: “The right to lawful and peaceful protest is an integral part of our society.
“Law-abiding citizens who wish to protest peacefully should not have to be concerned about the threat – perceived or real – of being labelled a domestic extremist.
“Changing the wording in the annual police plan to remove this inference is exactly the right thing to do.”