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New powers to crack down on protests come into force

02 Jul 2023 2 minute read
Just Stop Oil protesters taking part in a slow walk protest. Photo Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire

New measures to crack down on environmental activists come into force from Sunday, including an expansion of police powers and a new criminal offence of tunnelling.

The British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police will now have powers to move static protests, a common tactic of campaigners.

The Home Office said the move would free up officers, as Suella Braverman hit out at “mayhem” on the streets.

Environmental campaigners such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have continued to hold demonstrations and protests.

UK Government Ministers have sought to use enhanced public order powers to target the tactics often used by those groups.

From July 2, being found guilty of tunnelling or “being present in a tunnel to cause serious disruption” could see people jailed for up to three years.

Being found guilty of taking equipment to tunnel will carry a maximum penalty of six months in prison, while anyone guilty of obstructing a major transport works could face the same punishment.

The Home Office has said that tunnelling at locations such as HS2 construction sites was costing the taxpayer money and said that from Sunday obstructing the building or maintenance of future transport networks was now illegal.

Critics have argued that the toughening up of laws are a threat to the right to protest.


“Hard-working people want to be able to go about their daily lives without disruption from a selfish minority,” Ms Braverman said.

“The Public Order Act is delivering on our commitment to allow people to get on with their daily business. We will keep our roads and those hard-working people moving.

“The public have had enough of their lives being disrupted by selfish protesters. The mayhem we’ve seen on our streets has been a scandal.

“That is why I’ve given our police officers the powers they need to act fast and clamp down on these protesters determined to disrupt people’s lives.”

She said that the changes that come into force on Sunday would also ensure “the protection of journalists reporting on protests so they can carry out their important role without fear of arrest”.

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G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
1 year ago

Amddiffyn Cymru

The Tory mantra is to punish the effect while ignoring the cause.
Are people going to be transported to Rwanda for being poor ??
Every law creates its own why add to societies burdens.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

What started out as a Bullingdon Club reunion Trash Party, is busy smashing up the UK rather than a restaurant. Now that many ex-members have graduated into positions of great power they can, with their new friends to help them. It is however looking like their new friends have their own agenda in mind. It is not hard, with the benefit historical hindsight, to imagine that a Trojan Horse is now close to success in capturing the Citadel.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 year ago

What I expect of Starmers’ Labour on their first Monday in government is that they immediately revoke all legislation signed off with the names Patel and Braverman and put down a marker that they will not tolerate human rights abuse nor the abusers.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Wishful thinking but I share it…

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 year ago

Yes there’s disruption and for a reason – Westminster and the public will just not listen and ignore them otherwise. The Home secretary says ‘the minority’ – that maybe the case at the moment but when climate change really starts to hit us hard that minority will very quickly become the majority and a majority without a way to protest could get very ugly indeed.

1 year ago

People in government and police making up rules for the ordinary man in the street while they themselves are actively up to all sorts of dubious activities and law breaking.

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