Priti Patel 'to allow police to search suspected activists'
Stop and search to tackle eco mob: Priti Patel ‘will announce new powers allowing police to search suspected activists they think plan to glue or lock themselves to infrastructure’
- Home Secretary to set out new measures at the Conservative Party conference
- Insulate Britain protesters again caused chaos on Britain’s motorways yesterday
- Motorist bodies have called for more robust action to be taken against the group
Powers allowing police to stop and search people they suspect are looking to glue and lock themselves to critical infrastructure are set to be unveiled by Priti Patel next week.
The Home Secretary will use a speech at the Conservative Party conference to set out new measures for officers in a bid to stop the recent disruption caused by Insulate Britain protesters on the M25.
Motorist bodies yesterday called for the police to take more robust action against the eco-group as it blocked three motorways around London.
The cumbersome response to the activists has caused a simmering row between the Home Office and Department for Transport, which has led to legal action.
Members of the group have so far ignored an injunction that was granted last month, aimed at preventing demonstrations on the M25.
They once again targeted the motorway yesterday on the group’s tenth day of protests in three weeks, while also grinding traffic to a halt on the M4 close to Heathrow and the M1.
Car users reacted furiously as activists glued themselves to the road while some chained themselves together using bicycle locks.
But Ms Patel is now set to announce new powers similar to the police’s ability to stop and search people suspected of carrying knives, according to the Times.
Powers allowing police to stop and search people they suspect are looking to glue and lock themselves to critical infrastructure are set to be unveiled by Priti Patel next week
Given it can take officers 15 minutes to ‘unstick’ the hands of each protester who uses glue, the powers could have a significant impact on disruption
Two Insulate Britain activists chain themselves together using bike locks near Heathrow Airport on the motorway yesterday
Given it can take officers 15 minutes to ‘unstick’ the hands of each protester who uses glue, the powers could have a significant impact on disruption.
It will also be revealed that participation in such protests, as well as action which obstructs the HS2 rail expansion project, could soon be viewed as a specific offence.
Furthermore, the Home Secretary will look to close a loophole which current states that a highway is not treated as such once it is closed.
This therefore limits the options police have when looking to charge suspects.
The measures, which are still being finalised over the weekend, are set to be added to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently being debated in parliament.
However, Whitehall sources remain wary that the government can only go so far in terms of restricting disruption.
One told the paper: ‘You’re always going to get idiots glueing themselves to the floor — you can’t stop them leaving their homes, you can’t lock them up indefinitely.’
A further 39 activists were arrested yesterday for blocking the M4 near Heathrow Airport and the M1 close to Brent Cross in more misery for drivers who have also spent the past week queuing for fuel.
Later on the group – who want the Government to insulate all UK homes by 2030 – then returned to the M25, which has been their focus over the past 18 days so far, and blocked junction 25 for Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps then announced that he had instructed National Highways to seek a further injunction covering major roads in the South East to prevent highways from being obstructed.
It comes after the Government obtained a first injunction last week meaning anyone blocking the M25 could be found to be in contempt of court, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
So far the first injunction, taken out on September 21, has had little to no effect on the protests – and appears to have made the campaigners even more focused on causing as much disruption as possible around the capital.
The injunctions do not give the police extra powers, and instead give National Highways the ability to apply to a court to find someone in contempt of court. But this makes no immediate difference and can take months to sort.
One angry driver told LBC radio: ‘I don’t understand what they are f***ing doing. Look at them… staring, like goldfish. I understand what they are doing but this isn’t the way to do it, absolutely not. Sit outside Parliament.’
The Home Office has been approached for comment.
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