A Sussex Police officer has been disciplined after calling protesters in Balcombe “scum” on Twitter.

The unnamed officer, a PC, made the slur at the end of last week on the social networking site.

Campaigners have spent weeks camping on roadside verges near the mid Sussex village in a protest against fracking – a process which extracts natural gas from the ground for energy.

A member of the public picked up on the tweet and reported it to the force, which immediately launched an investigation.


The man who complained said: “Should your officers really be calling protesters ‘scum’ on Twitter? I suggest you issue some guidance ASAP.”

Sussex Police confirmed the report was genuine and the tweet had been sent by a PC.

A spokesman said: “Sussex Police has received a report of a personal Twitter account belonging to a Sussex officer, which is abusive to protesters in Balcombe.

“The officer has been identified and will be receiving management advice about their actions.

“We have worked hard to engage with everyone involved in and affected by the activities surrounding the drilling operation at Balcombe and no matter who authors them such comments are unhelpful and not acceptable.”

It is understood the officer involved made the comment on his personal account, but was clearly identifiable as a police officer.

He was not among the officers who have been policing in Balcombe.

A Sussex police officer, who asked not to be named, said he and fellow officers were aware of the incident.

“I am really disappointed that a colleague would do this – it is stupid to put it bluntly,” he told The Argus.

“Irrespective of your personal opinion you cannot say things like this. You have to remain impartial as a police officer.”