M25 climate protest disrupted as police remove demonstrators
The Home Secretary said: “Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and there will always be space for legitimate groups to make their voices heard.” However, she was less lenient in her approach when it came to the specific tactics being used. She said: “This Government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.”
The Tory MP took the side of the general public who have seen their daily working commutes severely disrupted by the protesters seeking improvements to home insulation and the environment.
Ms Patel said: “The guerrilla tactics used by Insulate Britain detract from their cause and I know the public will agree that the scenes on the M25 this week were completely unacceptable.”
Other Government ministers have called for swift and decisive action against the disruption being caused by the protesters.
Protesters seen on the M25
In a call with chief constables – including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick – on Friday Morning, Ms Patel is understood to have reiterated her position and sought assurances as she was updated on the situation.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and increases pollution. I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads.”
Collaborating police services have so far made numerous arrests including public nuisance, obstructing the highway and conspiracy to cause danger to road users.
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The M25 was empty as protests blocked traffic
Surrey Police said officers arrested 14 people at Junction 9, and Essex Police said 24 were held at junction 28 of the M25 and junction 8 of the M11 where it meets the A120.
Officers from several police services have been working in unison when dealing with the protest, ranging from the Metropolitan Police Service, to Essex Police.
Some of the more extreme protesters had glued their hands to the motorway, and have demanded ‘credible action’ to be taken by the government.
Other protesters have voiced their concerns, but have not been involved in more extreme tactics, and not all protesters have been arrested.
Ms Patel, who championed the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, is hoping that Part 3 of the Bill, the section which deals with protests and public assembly, will give the police greater powers when dealing with such events.
This will allow officers to criminalise such acts as public nuisance, as well as having greater control over the organisation and planning of the event itself.
However, the proposed Bill itself has been met with protest itself, with many stating that the extra powers given to the police will lead to further police violence.
This is something that some of those opposing the new law have labelled as “draconian” with the Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman, Alistair Carmichael stating: “They undermine the proud British tradition of standing up for what we believe in and respecting others’ rights to do the same.”
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Priti Patel fumes at M25 protesters: ‘Using guerilla tactics to disrupt working majority!’
The disruption caused by the protests have affected the 117-mile long road, often cited as one of the busiest in Europe.
The 200,000 or so users that depend on the road for their daily commutes and logistical needs are feeling the effect.
One road user stating on Twitter: “Thank you #InsulateBritain. Now I can’t get to work to teach the young people you say you’re protecting”.
Another stated: “It’s completely selfish to play havoc with people’s lives in this way. I won’t have been the only one who was on their way to hospital. These extremists could have killed someone.”
Traffic builds up leading up to the protest site
What now remains to be seen is whether the protests will continue for a 4th event, and if so, what can be done to both respect the right to protest, whilst at the same time maintaining the superhighway traffic surrounding Britain’s capital.
Insulate Britain said its “actions will continue until the Government makes a meaningful commitment to insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030, which are among the oldest and most energy inefficient in Europe”.
They demanded that the government insulate all UK homes starting with public housing by 2025.
Police officers remove protesters from the scene
Protests erupted following the announcement of the Police and Crime Bill
British insulation said it tried to block London’s orbital highway hours after 79 people were released from police detention after a similar protest on Wednesday.
As things stand, roads have now reopened, and traffic is once again flowing freely for now.
Surrey Police Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman said: “Following reports of a number of protesters on Junctions 8 and 10 of the M25 yesterday morning, we took swift and robust action to ensure that they were removed after they ignored police requests to move on in a peaceful manner.
“I would like to reassure the public that all the forces involved are working closely to ensure that any further activity is dealt with effectively and efficiently, with disruption to people and businesses kept to a minimum.
“When protests start to endanger the public and put the safety of others at risk, we have to act swiftly and effectively.”
He added: “I appreciate that these protests have caused considerable inconvenience and frustration for those caught up in the traffic delays and I can assure you that we are continuing to gather evidence and ensure that those who break the law are brought to justice.
“I would like to thank all those motorists who got caught up in the delays, both yesterday and on Monday, while we dealt with the incident, for their co-operation and patience.”