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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 1°C
# just stop oil
UK's Sunak pledges more police powers to tackle ‘completely unacceptable’ climate protests
Sunak called it “completely unacceptable” that ordinary people were having their lives disrupted by environmental protests.

UK PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak pledged that police will have whatever powers required to crack down on disruptive protests, following a meeting with police chiefs in Downing Street.

Sunak called it “completely unacceptable” that ordinary people were having their lives disrupted by environmental protests.

Police chiefs said they had a “constructive” meeting with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and policing minister Chris Philp to discuss tackling the “guerrilla tactics” used by Just Stop Oil protest groups.

Sunak, who joined the start of the roundtable hosted in No 10 today, said: “This afternoon I sat down with all the police chiefs to make it clear that they have my full support in acting decisively to clamp down on illegal protests.

“It is completely unacceptable that ordinary members of the public are having their lives disrupted by a selfish minority.

“My view is that those who break the law should feel the full force of it, and that’s what I am determined to deliver.”

Police chiefs issued a statement following the talks in Downing Street, describing the meeting as “constructive”.

Chief Constable BJ Harrington, the UK National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for public order and public safety, said it showed a “joint commitment to tackling criminal activism while respecting lawful protest”.

“We are not anti-protest, but we are anti-crime. Police are committed to responding quickly and effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives through dangerous, reckless, and criminal acts.

Harrington, the head of Essex Police, said forces were “fully prepared to deal with further disruption planned ahead of Christmas”.

Earlier the London Met Police Commissioner, Mark Rowley,  told the London Assembly: “Frankly, what I’ve seen is that Just Stop Oil have got much less assertive in their recent protests – frankly, as a consequence of a large number of their leaders being remanded in custody as a result of our operations.”

“I’m absolutely determined that anything that goes beyond lawful reasonable protest by creating serious disruption to London, by creating damage to property, will be dealt with robustly,” he added.

jso Just Stop Oil / PA A Just Stop Oil activist on an overhead gantry on the M25 Just Stop Oil / PA / PA

“That’s why we’ve used the more serious offences such as the statutory offence of public nuisance – we put the best part of 60 offenders before the courts at one stage for that offence.”

Rowley said most of the trials for members of the environmental activist group are scheduled to take place in 2024 due to delays in the criminal justice system.

Earlier this week, Just Stop Oil protester Jan Goodey, who caused “mile after mile” of tailbacks on the M25 after climbing up a gantry, was jailed for six months after admitting causing a public nuisance.

The 57-year-old was part of a demonstration on behalf of the climate group which forced authorities to close sections of the UK’s busiest motorway during the morning rush-hour on 7  November.

In September, Goodey, from Brighton, East Sussex, had been handed a two-year conditional discharge for obstructing the highway in a separate protest last year.

District Judge Daniel Benjamin said he had “flagrantly ignored” previous warnings that his conduct “was not acceptable in a peaceful and democratic society”.

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