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Priti Patel urges police to use severe new anti-protest powers after 12 arrested over Wales-England fuel convoy

05 Jul 2022 4 minute read
Police escort vehicles across the Prince of Wales Bridge. Picture by Rod Minchin / PA Wire. Priti Patel picture by Richard Townshend (CC BY 3.0).

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has called on police to use severe new anti-protest powers which include imprisonment after lorry drivers caused huge backlogs on the crossing between Wales and England yesterday.

The new measures to tackle non-violent demonstrations that have a significant disruptive impact on the public came into effect on June 28 as part of changes to the law.

Some 12 people were arrested on Monday as dozens of campaigners calling for a cut in fuel duty targeted the M4 second Severn crossing between Wales and England.

Dozens of police vans and hundreds of officers from both Gwent Police and Avon and Somerset Police were at the Prince of Wales Bridge, which runs between England and Wales, at 8.30am when four people were arrested and 10.45am when another eight people were arrested.

A Home Office source told the Daily Mail: “Through our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, we have given the police a wealth of powers to deal with disruptive and damaging protests, including imprisonment and unlimited fines for those blocking a highway – actions which inflict further pain on those affected by rising prices.

“The Home Secretary would encourage and support the police to make use of all the powers available to them. Forces need to move people on. These protests are blocking people from getting to work and from carrying out other vital journeys – this is not about whether you believe in the cause or not.”

The stance was supported by Downing Street, with a senior Government source telling The Times: “The Government has given the police a lot of powers to deal with this sort of stuff and we are looking to them to use it. We want to know what they are going to do about it.”

‘Heard’

The protests, which started at around 7am, are understood to have been organised via social media under the banner Fuel Price Stand Against Tax.

Among those arrested was former HGV driver from Cwmbran Vicky Stamper.

The 41-year-old told the PA news agency she and her partner Darren had to give up jobs in Bristol because they could no longer afford the fuel.

She said: “We had to leave those jobs because it was costing us £380 a week just to get to and from work.

“I then lost a job two weeks ago because the company couldn’t afford to put fuel in that many lorries so last in, first out.”

Mobile welder Richard Dite, 44, from Maesteg, South Wales, was also arrested.

He said before the protest that it was costing him hundreds of pounds in fuel to get to work every week due to price hikes.

“My only option soon will be to put the welding gear in the shed and call it a day, maybe go on the dole,” he said.

“Face it, at this rate I’ll be on more that way.”

Sharon Downs, 46, from Pontypridd was also taken in after taking her HGV on the protest.

“I’m disappointed more people haven’t come with us today but I think the price of fuel is sadly exactly why there’s not more here. And needing to be at work,” she said.

“But something needs to be done about it, we need the tax on fuel to be brought down before this country is on its knees.

“We need more protests and we need more people to join in so our voices are heard, and the Government know we won’t stand for it any more.”

‘Substantial’

Separately, two climate change protesters were arrested in London after gluing themselves to the frame of John Constable’s masterpiece The Hay Wain at the National Gallery.

There were also fuel protests in Somerset, and stretches of the M5 from Devon to Bristol, with rolling go-slow roadblocks in the morning rush-hour.

It came after the latest figures from Experian showed the average price of petrol reached a new high of 191.5p per litre on Sunday, while the average price of diesel was 199.0p per litre.

Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority launched a “short and focused review” of how much drivers are being charged for fuel after a request by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs last Tuesday he will carefully consider calls for a “more substantial” fuel duty cut.


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Pawl
Pawl
1 month ago

Dim syndod gan Facist Patel

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Smug nasty bit** ! She ought to crack down more severely on likes of people smugglers, slavers and a whole host of other “exploiters” that have done well under the Tories for last 12 years. Party of utter disorder and full of glib platitudes.

If she was any use she’d use her influence in Cabinet to get Fatty and his mob to mitigate those multiple factors driving this current cost of living crisis. Instead she sits back along with the rest of them and watch the increased flows of VAT and other taxes while the ordinary people are squeezed.

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
1 month ago

It seems to me that Patel is using a jackboot to suppress fuel protesters.

Pob lwc
Pob lwc
1 month ago
Reply to  Mick Tems

They’re criminals, though.

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Pob lwc

If so , why dont the police just issue them with questionnaires, that seems a popular move by the police these days.

arthur owen
1 month ago

Quite a few of these protesters would be Tory supporters,certainly many of them would have voted Tory in 2019.Either PP is utterly dedicated to enforcing draconian laws or she shows political ineptitude of the first water.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
1 month ago

Yes Pob lwc a criminal act has taken place & the police already have & have had the powers to deal with situations such as this since Noah was a boy. The unsettling bit about this news story is the likes of Priti vacant cannot wait to exercise their newly enacted powers to control the population. Remember, this is how authoritarian regimes begin by controlling any & all forms of dissent by the gradual snipping away of basic, decent & fair human rights. It’s all getting a bit Orwellian now but too many of the population can’t be bothered to… Read more »

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago

Again London is not listening to what is happening in our communities. The real issue is the crippling cost of fuel. In Germany their government have cut the cost of fuel by 25p a litre. In the Netherlands, Spain and our neighbours in Ireland have had a fuel duty cut of 17p a litre. In France their government have cut fuel costs by 14p a litre. In Rip Off Britain the Westminster government have made a VAT cut of 5p a litre which they admit is not always passed on to the customer in many places. The pathetic Rural Fuel… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Thatcher used the Police that WE pay for as her own personal and private hench mob against the miners in 1984. You can see where Patel gets the idea from.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

So she thinks that the threat of being arrested and maybe procecuted will be a big deterent? When people can’t get to work – what choice do they have but to protest. The UK government doesn’t give a toss about how people are suffering. I suspect the protests will only get worse as fuel continues to rise and Sunak contines to ignore the situation.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Wave your little union flags for the Jubilee, eat your strawberries and cream watching Wimbledon and keep your fingers crossed that you win the best kept village and day by day we loose our freedoms and human rights

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

I can understand people’s frustrations with these protests when they are trying to get to work, however the cost of living is crippling many households, including those protesting at the issue. Bringing companies to a standstill is often, the only way that corporations and politicians will take notice. And while it may be massively inconvenient, it is still peaceful.

Preventing the right to protest and inconvenience others, negates the whole purpose of protests. Arresting peaceful protesters is grossly disproportionate.

We should all be concerned with the arrest of 12 people for exercising their democratic right to protest.

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