Activists are set to be stopped in their tracks by new legislation that grants police powers to stamp out slow walking, the Home Office announced last night.
Protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil have recently turned to disruptive slow walking with an intent to cause gridlock and delays on the roads for those travelling to work and school.
Where police have called for clarity on the conditions in current legislation that permit intervention when “serious disruption to the life of the community”, the new law further takes into account cumulative impact of disruption and the public’s inability to carry out daily duties.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “Selfish, disruptive protesters are wreaking havoc in people’s everyday lives across the country and this must be brought to a stop.
A Just Stop Oil protester is taken away by policePA
“This is why we are bringing forward this new law to clearly define serious disruption as requested by police chiefs.
"It permits the police to clear the roads of slow marching protesters who are hell-bent on causing chaos across the UK.”
The Bill will be debated in Parliament before coming into force and complements the Public Order Bill which passed through the House of Lords on Wednesday.
The Public Order Bill is intended to stop people glueing and clamping themselves onto national infrastructure such as railways and airports, but peers removed a clause in the Bill that was aimed at tackling tactics such as slow walking.
Offenders will face up to 12 months behind bars.
Volker Türk, United Nations high commissioner for human rights, has branded the new protest powers as “wholly unnecessary” and “deeply troubling”.
Türk accused the UK Government of seeking to “preemptively limit someone’s future legitimate exercise of their rights” and of deliberately targeting peaceful protests.
Chief Constable BJ Harrington said: “We are committed to responding effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives through dangerous, reckless and criminal acts.”
Suella Braverman said: "Selfish, disruptive protesters are wreaking havoc in people’s everyday lives"
Suella Braverman added: “Not only will the Public Order Bill, passed yesterday by parliament, introduce new criminal offences for causing serious disruption, this new legislation permits the police to clear the roads of slow marching protesters who are hell-bent on causing chaos across the UK.”
On Wednesday, Jacob Rees-Mogg, journalist Aaron Bastani and former newspaper editor Kelvin MacKenzie discussed on GB News the prospect that police may arrest those who get in the way of Just Stop Oil protestors.