Lancashire Police has revealed that it passed on information regarding disabled anti-fracking protesters to the Department for Work and Pensions, claiming that they have “a duty” to do so if officers receive information that “clearly suggests fraud may be being committed.”
The Independent reports that at least two activists who have attended anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road near Blackpool have been made to attend interviews with the DWP in which they were questioned about the validity of their disability benefits claims. Despite this, Lancashire Police say no-one has formally been charged with any crimes.
Nick Sheldrick, a disabled protester who attended the protest and was summoned by the DWP, told the newspaper that this had “all got on top of him” and was making him “feel very low”.
UNITE has previously reported on the DWP using Facebook to invalidate claimant’s benefits claims, as well as supermarkets and leisure centres giving video footage of disabled people over to the DWP which could be used against claimants.
The police became suspicious of disabled protesters when some protesters who were using wheelchairs got out of them, despite the continued existence of ambulatory wheelchair users. In spite of this, a spokesperson for the Lancashire Police told the Independent:
“The DWP are a partner agency and where we have information to suggest that fraud may be being committed we have a duty to pass that on, including video footage if we have it.
“They are the appropriate agency and it is their decision what, if any, action should be taken.
“We will, of course, facilitate the right of anyone to protest lawfully.”
They added in a tweet that their officers “aren’t qualified to make any medical assessments and they would never would do so. However, they do have a duty to pass on info.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine