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UK Government To Ramp Up Prison Sentences For Protesters Who Block Motorways

Tom Wood

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UK Government To Ramp Up Prison Sentences For Protesters Who Block Motorways

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

The UK government is set to ramp up prison sentences for protesters who disrupt the motorways and infrastructure as part of new legislation that could be rushed through as early as Wednesday.

The new offences seem specifically geared up to crack down on protest groups such as Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil, and Extinction Rebellion, and come as the Conservative government continues to introduce legislation against people protesting.

The move comes after Parliament refused to support the measures as amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, and is amongst 38 new pieces of legislation set to be announced by Boris Johnson during the Queen’s Speech tomorrow (10 May) at reopening of Parliament.

Insulate Britain protesters have blocked motorways in recent times. Credit: Alamy
Insulate Britain protesters have blocked motorways in recent times. Credit: Alamy

The Public Order Bill will see 12-month prison sentences and unlimited fines introduced for anyone found guilty of ‘interfering with key national infrastructure, such as airports, railways and printing presses’.

It will also become an offence for protesters to ‘lock on’ to others, objects, or buildings as a form of disruptive protest.

That offence will be punishable by a six-month prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both. Protesters who come equipped to 'lock on' will face an unlimited fine.

That seems a clear reference to protests such as Just Stop Oil’s stoppage of a Premier League game at Everton’s Goodison Park earlier in the year, and Insulate Britain activists gluing themselves to the M25 motorway last year.

According to a release from Downing Street: “It will also be illegal to obstruct major transport works, including disrupting the construction or maintenance of projects like HS2 - punishable by up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.”

Police are to be given extra powers to tackle 'disruptive' protests. Credit: Alamy
Police are to be given extra powers to tackle 'disruptive' protests. Credit: Alamy

The Government also intends to extend powers of stop and search to police officers to include articles related to the new offences, as well as Serious Disruption Prevention Orders for those who are repeat offenders.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The law-abiding, responsible majority have had enough of anti-social, disruptive protests carried out by a self-indulgent minority who seem to revel in causing mayhem and misery for the rest of us.

“The Public Order Bill will give the police the powers they need to clamp down on this outrageous behaviour and ensure the British public can go about their lives without disruption.”

This piece of legislation is one of 38 to be announced by Boris Johnson tomorrow, as he aims to offer his government’s approach to the cost-of-living crisis, as well as ‘levelling up’ the UK.

He said: “This Queen’s Speech will get our country back on track, and I will strive – and this Government will strive – night and day to deliver it.

“Because in spite of everything we have been through, we are going to ensure that over the two years we have left in this parliament, we spend every second uniting and levelling up this country, exactly as we said we would.”

Some protesters could be jailed for 12-months and face an unlimited fine. Credit: Alamy
Some protesters could be jailed for 12-months and face an unlimited fine. Credit: Alamy

In his speech tomorrow, he is expected to say: “We will get the country through the aftershocks of Covid, just as we got through Covid, with every ounce of ingenuity and compassion and hard work.

“By urgently pressing on with our mission to create the high wage, high skilled jobs that will drive economic growth across our whole United Kingdom.

“That is the long-term, sustainable solution to ease the burden on families and businesses.”

Topics: UK News, Boris Johnson, Politics, Crime

Tom Wood
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