Merseyside Police

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Merseyside Police force was formed in 1975 and is in charge of applying the rule of law in the county of Merseyside. It serves 1.5 million people through six basic command units: Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens, Liverpool North and Liverpool South.[1] [2]

Record and controversies

Fracking-related policing

Its constabulary boundaries contain many 'PEDL' blocks which the UK government has licensed for the development of oil and gas exploration. INEOS, Igas, Cuadrilla, Egdon and Aurora Energy are among the fracking firms operating and planning to exploit shale gas reserves in the region.

Prevent Policy and anti-fracking protestors

screenshot: Presentation on Prevent showing the link made between anti-fracking protestors and extremists from the Merseyside Police Force

In November 2016 Spinwatch revealed that the Merseyside Police Force had included ‘anti-fracking’ as a form of ‘domestic’ extremism in its latest Prevent presentation.

This contentious Powerpoint document forms the basis of the Merseyside Police, 'special branch' programme of presentations to schools, governors, colleges and childcare providers. One of its five divisions, Sefton Council, has also used the document.

The presentation describes anti-fracking campaigners as domestic extremists on a list that includes ‘extreme right-wing’ groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) and North West Infidels, and 65 international groups who are considered ‘international’ extremists. [3]

Responses to investigations concerning their Prevent policy

In December 2016, a few days after the investigation conducted by Spinwatch was published, Merseyside Police defended its Prevent training materials, claiming that it is 'not categorising all single-issue protestors as extremists' or 'demonising legitimate lobbying groups or campaigners' but rather aiming to 'discuss the range of behaviours from protest groups across the spectrum'. [4]

When Netpol attempted via Freedom of Information requests to push five police forces, including Merseyside, to release their Prevent training presentations for public sector staff among other details, the Information Commissioner (ICO) rejected their appeal. They cited grounds of national security and stating somewhat alarmingly 'that simply asking for information from multiple forces is itself suspicious, because this could be used as part of "a radicalisation strategy... by extremists to evade detection".' [5]

Part of North West Counter Terrorism Unit

The North West Counter Terrorism Unit, which includes Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester Police forces, hit the news in 2015 when one of its officers giving a Prevent training session for teachers in West Yorkshire referred to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who had been arrested while peacefully protesting at Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site in 2013, as an example of extremism, and also named campaign group Frack Off. Lucas was furious. ‘Equating peaceful political demonstrations with violent extremism is both offensive and deeply misguided,’ she said. ‘It’s this kind of thinking that has led police in this country to waste vast amounts of taxpayers’ money in infiltrating environmental groups.’


Chief Constable


  1. Us, Merseyside Police, originally accessed 12 July 2013, last accessed 5 July 2019 [link updated]
  2. Merseyside Police Force website, accessed 06 December 2016.
  3. Russell Scott, More police forces and councils labelling peaceful anti-fracking protestors as 'extremists' alongside ISIS and far right, Spinwatch, 02 December 2016. Accessed 6 December 2016.
  4. Dean Kirby, Anti-fracking campaigners labelled ‘extremists’ in efforts to stop would-be terrorists, i news, 6 December 2016, accessed December 13 2016.
  5. Russell Scott and Melissa Jones, Update: more documents show police, councils and schools labelling anti-fracking protestors as extremists, Spinwatch, 09 December 2016, accessed 12 December 2016.