'You’ll be leaving your fingerprints on the road': Top cop warns protesters who glue themselves to motorways

19 April 2023, 09:54 | Updated: 19 April 2023, 10:04

Protesters mustn't glue themselves to tarmac, a top cop told LBC
Protesters mustn't glue themselves to tarmac, a top cop told LBC. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Protesters who try to disrupt the lives of thousands of people by gluing themselves to tarmac will “be leaving their fingerprints on the road,” the Chief Constable of Manchester police told LBC today.

Pledging a ‘robust’ response to protest groups like Insulate Britain, who have caused travel chaos across the country by gluing themselves to tarmac at busy motorway junctions, CC Stephen Watson told LBC that the practice was a “dangerous activity” and “hugely disruptive”.

In a phone-in with Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC, he said: “There are lawful, sensible ways to make your case - you don’t have to do these things.

“There’s danger, there’s risk - it’s just not fair. We have the powers to act and we should do so very quickly.”

'You will be leaving your fingerprints on the road surface': GMP top cop on crackdown on protesters

He said officers shouldn’t be offering protesters a ‘blanket and a warm drink,’ adding: “You’ll be leaving your fingerprints on the road surface of the motorway.

“Candidly, I think it’s a dangerous activity, it’s hugely disruptive, There are people on that motorway who are going to kidney dialysis, they are going to visit their mums in hospital.

Read more: Eco protesters threat to flood capital with 30,000 activists during London Marathon weekend dubbed 'the big one'

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Police officers remove a protester glued to the road at an Insulate Britain roadblock on the M25
Police officers remove a protester glued to the road at an Insulate Britain roadblock on the M25. Picture: Alamy

“There are lawful, sensible ways in our democracy to make your case. There’s danger, there’s risk - there’s an unbalanced approach.”

Protesters from Insulate Britain with their hands glued to the road near to the South Mimms roundabout in November 2021
Protesters from Insulate Britain with their hands glued to the road near to the South Mimms roundabout in November 2021. Picture: Alamy

Yesterday it emerged in court that Insulate Britain had warned the Met police ahead of a blockade on the M25 in September 2021.

Activists sent an email to the Met the day before the first day of protests - but senior officers were not warned of the exact location.

Traffic was brought to a standstill after a dozen protesters sat down in the middle of rush-hour traffic.

The Chief Constable of Manchester police took calls during a phone-in on LBC
The Chief Constable of Manchester police took calls during a phone-in on LBC. Picture: LBC

Cathy Eastburn, 55, the wife of a former Transport for London director, is on trial along with Cameron Ford, 32, the spokesman for Insulate Britain, Alexander Rodger, 33, and Venetia Carter, 58 at Hove Crown Court.

They have all been charged with causing a public nuisance at the same incident at the interchange and deny the charges.

Mr Watson said of possible plans to disrupt the London Marathon: “The Met are superb in dealing with these things - I’m sure they will have robust plans.”

“Policing of protest is always complex. It seems to me there is a point at which if in the exercise of your rights - if it comes at the direct expense of millions of people enjoying their rights, we need to have a robust response.”

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari is joined by Manchester's top cop

Extinction Rebellion had said the Government is "on notice" and if it did not agree to start negotiations over two demands by 5pm on April 24 it would step up a campaign of disruption.

It comes ahead of "the big one", four days of action between April 21 and April 24 that will see more than 200 organisations protest outside Parliament.

Extinction Rebellion's Marijn van de Geer told a press conference: "From today, we are putting the Government on notice.

"They have seven days to agree to enter negotiations around these two demands or we will step up our campaigns in new and inventive ways, working towards a coalition unprecedented in size."

She said ministers have until April 24 "to agree to enter negotiations about the two collective demands that we have presented to them today".

They want to "end all new licences, approvals and funding for fossil fuel projects" and "create emergency citizens assemblies to lead on fair, long-term solutions to the most urgent issues of our time".

It comes after eco protests and animal rights demonstrations targeted sporting events this week.

Animal rights activists tried to disrupt the Grand National at Aintree but police and security hauled them off.

A total of 118 activists were bailed after the action, with one trainer blaming them for a horse's death by saying the protest caused the animal to get agitated.

Then on Monday, a Just Stop Oil climbed onto a snooker table during the World Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield, throwing an orange substance over himself.

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