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Top policeman defends pressure point tactics used at Balcombe fracking protest
The Chief Constable of Sussex has defended police tactics used to control anti-fracking protesters as he was grilled by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne.
Mrs Bourne asked Chief Constable Martin Richards to explain the use of police force and pressure point techniques at the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe.
Chief Constable Richards said: “Force has to be proportional and reasonable.
“We are in the spotlight. Any activity, action a police officer takes is under scrutiny.
“Use of force can look dramatic and alarming.”
Pressure point techniques are used by applying pressure to certain parts of the body, such as just behind the ears, which causes temporary pain.
Chief Constable Richards said the tactic has been used after officers had been negotiating between one-and-a-half to two hours to no avail.
He added: “It does hurt. It doesn’t cause any injury. “It’s a disabling technique that allows us to move from an unlawful position to a lawful position.”
Balcombe resident Simon Welsh, 34, said he thought police pressure point techniques were disgusting.
“I do understand the police are in a difficult position when they are trying to uphold the law as it currently stands.
“But I don’t agree with it at all as it was peaceful that day.
“It does hurt but it doesn’t cause damage.
“It’s playground bullying tactics but if you fight back against that you’re in big trouble.”
During the two hour accountability meeting Chief Constable Richards also defended the cost of policing at the site in Balcombe, which now stands at more than £4 million.
Chief Constable Richards said the policing strategy was reviewed on a daily basis to ensure the appropriate number of officers are deployed at the protest camp.
“In my days as a middle ranking officer a weekend of policing travellers a potential camp of thousands cost £2 million, ” he explained.
“Given the length of this operation I am as satisfied as I could be we have pitched the resources at the right level.”
Katy Bourne also said she has spoken to the policing minister to request additional funding as she believes this is a national issue around energy.
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