Suella Braverman will read riot act to police chiefs over eco protests
Suella Braverman set to read riot act to police chiefs over Just Stop Oil mayhem: Home Secretary will order hardline stance on climate protests as eco zealots warn of fortnight of disruption from tomorrow
- Suella Braverman will press police to use all their powers to remove protesters
- Rishi Sunak is alleged to have asked ‘Why are the police not arresting people?’
- Images showed officers standing around on road with protesters on gantries
- PM alleged to have said it was ‘ridiculous’ that protesters were able to shut M25
The Home Secretary will read the riot act to police chiefs and order a hard-line stance on protests as eco-zealots resume their disruption today.
Suella Braverman will press police to use all their powers to remove Just Stop Oil protesters after activists climbed gantries over the M25 for several days earlier this month, effectively paralysing sections of the country’s busiest motorway.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is alleged to have said it was ‘ridiculous’ that protesters were able to shut the M25 and asked, ‘Why are the police not arresting people?’, as images showed groups of officers standing around on the road with protesters on gantries overhead.
He has ordered Mrs Braverman and policing minister Chris Philp to summon police chiefs to Downing Street on Thursday as part of his so-called ‘Operation Get Tough’ to discuss dealing with disruptive protests faster, as Just Stop Oil plot two weeks of pre-Christmas disruption.
Suella Braverman will press police to use all their powers to remove Just Stop Oil protesters after activists climbed gantries over the M25 for several days earlier this month, effectively paralysing sections of the country’s busiest motorway
Police have been able to arrest anyone suspected of conspiring to a cause public nuisance with new powers under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
This includes those who have glued themselves to the ground, while courts have the power to impose sentences of up to 10 years in prison.
Mr Sunak has also called for the guidance issued to frontline officers by the College of Policing to be updated to reflect the new additional powers and to set out clearly how the police should use them.
A senior government source told The Sunday Times: ‘The Prime Minister is frustrated by the apparent ease with which protesters can cause mayhem for law-abiding citizens trying to go about their everyday lives.
‘He has been unequivocal that ordinary people shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of protesters who are taking advantage of their right to protest peacefully.
‘The PM expects the police to exercise the powers they have, crack down on these groups and bring law and order to our streets and roads once again.’
The Home Secretary will read the riot act to police chiefs and order a hard-line stance on protests as eco-zealots resume their disruption today. Just Stop Oil protesters are seen blocking the road in Kensington, London
The Public Order Bill currently going through Parliament aims to ‘bolster the police’s powers to respond more effectively to disruptive and dangerous protests’.
Measures are designed to torpedo protesters’ favoured tactics and include new criminal offences of locking-on and going equipped to lock on to other people or objects, obstructing major transport works, interfering with key national infrastructure and causing serious disruption by tunnelling.
Officers would also have greater stop-and-search powers to seize objects, including lock-on devices, before they are used.
Mr Philp said officers ‘need to get tougher’ with protesters who block roads and damage property.
Writing in The Sun on Sunday, he said: ‘’What we have seen in recent times is completely wrong.
‘Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made it clear that the whole government is on the side of the law-abiding majority who want to live their daily lives.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is alleged to have said it was ‘ridiculous’ that protesters were able to shut the M25 and asked, ‘Why are the police not arresting people?’, as images showed groups of officers standing around on the Tarmac with protesters on gantries overhead
‘Eco-zealots should be under no doubt that they will be arrested, prosecuted and jailed if they ignore the law.’
Just Stop Oil paused protests on November 11, two days after a police officer on a motorbike was injured when two lorries collided during a rolling roadblock.
But in a private message to supporters, seen by the Daily Mail, organisers confirmed action would resume from today (MON) as they call for an end to new gas and oil licences.
One said: ‘We are aiming for three weeks of twice-weekly disruptive marches from the end of November to mid-December.’ They added: ‘Just Stop Oil aims to keep the pressure on and continue our momentum through further disruption in the run up to 2023.
‘Let’s honour those on remand and keep Just Stop Oil in the public eye.’
They said they will be causing disruption by ‘slow marching on significant roads in London’.
But Metropolitan Police commander Karen Findlay said officers were ‘fully prepared’ for the protests.
She said: ‘We have a very experienced team with robust policing measures in place to respond quickly and effectively to any incidents of serious disruption to London.
‘We also have specialist officers available to deal with a range of tactics including sophisticated lock-on devices.
‘Where activists cross the line into criminality, the Met will provide a proportionate policing response.
‘We will arrive quickly, deal with the situation efficiently, remove and arrest activists as appropriate and return things to normal as soon as possible.’
Activists spent six weeks from the end of September implementing rolling road blocks made up of volunteers from around the UK.
They said police have arrested more than 700 activists in that time.
Other stunts included spraying buildings with orange paint and throwing tomato soup at artist Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece Sunflowers.
Their protests on the M25 have been in defiance of an injunction by National Highways which threatened imprisonment for anyone caught entering motorways or attaching themselves to structures.
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