Enhanced authority granted to UK police to manage protests

by Sophia Chen
Expanded Police Powers

The British police have received extended capabilities as of Sunday, which encompasses strategies to handle activists who disrupt traffic and major construction with demonstrations.

Environmental advocacy groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, renowned for their frequent high-profile protests on major highways and roads to highlight the immediate need to address climate change, have often been criticized by the authorities. Their protests in the past few years have typically resulted in significant inconvenience for drivers.

Beginning Sunday, police now possess the authority to displace stationary protests. While critics express concern that the strengthened regulations may pose a threat to the right to demonstrate, U.K. officials insist these measures were necessary to prevent the “disruption caused by a selfish minority.”

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman expressed that “The public are fed up with their lives being disrupted by inconsiderate protesters. The chaos we’ve witnessed on our streets is scandalous.”

Under the revised Public Order Act, the authorities state that protesters found guilty of “tunnelling” – the act of digging underground tunnels to impede new infrastructure development – could potentially be sentenced to three years in prison. Any protester found obstructing a significant transport project could face imprisonment of up to six months.

The law further criminalizes “locking on,” the act of protesters attaching themselves to other individuals, objects, or buildings.

Numerous climate change protesters were detained in the U.K. last year for obstructing major roads and bridges. Many activists resorted to protesting by occupying roadways or adhering themselves to the road surfaces, making it more difficult to remove them.

This civil disobedience represents a surge of direct action that has seen activists resort to extreme measures like sticking themselves to renowned museum artworks or splashing soup on art pieces to attract media attention to their cause.

Police report that managing these protests has proven to be expensive and has led to thousands of officers being redirected from other duties, such as dealing with crime.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Expanded Police Powers

What new powers have the UK police gained?

The UK police now have expanded capabilities, including the ability to move stationary protests, sentence protesters who disrupt traffic and major construction projects, and prosecute those who attach themselves to other people, objects, or buildings during protests.

Who are the activist groups criticized by authorities?

Authorities have criticized environmental activist groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion. These groups have frequently staged high-profile protests on major highways and roads to raise awareness about climate change, often causing significant disruption.

What penalties do the new police powers impose on protesters?

The revised Public Order Act allows for protesters found guilty of “tunnelling” or obstructing infrastructure projects to face up to three years in prison. Those found guilty of obstructing a major transportation project could be jailed for up to six months. The act of attaching oneself to other individuals, objects, or buildings during protests has also been criminalized.

What is the public and official response to these new police powers?

There has been mixed reaction to these new powers. Critics argue that the strengthened regulations threaten the right to protest. However, UK officials and Home Secretary Suella Braverman insist these measures are necessary to prevent the disruption caused by a “selfish minority” of protesters.

How have the protests affected the UK police force?

The police have reported that dealing with these protests has been costly and has diverted thousands of officers from other duties, such as dealing with crime.

More about Expanded Police Powers

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GreenFuture21 July 2, 2023 - 3:38 pm

This is a massive blow to democracy…the right to protest is fundamental, and the government is taking that away! we must fight back, peacefully and democratically.

CivicRight99 July 2, 2023 - 10:28 pm

This is just an excuse for the government to limit our freedom. We should all be worried, even if we’re not protesters ourselves. its a slippery slope…

Jo_Motorist July 2, 2023 - 11:20 pm

Not gonna lie, its been a nightmare driving lately with all these protests. but still, 3 years in prison for tunneling? Seems a bit much tbh.

Dave76 July 3, 2023 - 8:24 am

Finally! its about time the gov took action. These protestrs were getting out of hand. Every1 has the right to speak but this is ridiculous. I’ve been late to work so many times cause of em.


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