Tougher punishments target Insulate Britain protesters using 'guerrilla' tactics

14 November 2021, 00:00 | Updated: 14 November 2021, 06:29

Insulate Britain protesters have caused chaos during rush-hour in recent weeks.
Insulate Britain protesters have caused chaos during rush-hour in recent weeks. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Tougher punishments that could see Insulate Britain demonstrators jailed for causing major disruption on the country's roads are to be unveiled to Parliament.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The changes will be tabled on Monday in the House of Lords, with protesters facing six months behind bars and slapped with an unlimited fine.

Police will also be given greater powers to tackle offenders who they suspect could be about to block or glue themselves to roads, trains, planes and other vital infrastructure, in amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

It comes as Insulate Britain protesters - dubbed "irresponsible crusties" by Boris Johnson - continue to cause misery for motorists as they relentlessly block major roads during rush-hour.

The group recently took their protests nationwide, disrupting drivers in Manchester and Birmingham, as well as parts of London.

Roads targeted by the group include the M25 around London, the M56 in Manchester and the A4400 in Birmingham, among others.

Read more: Eco protesters tell court they feel 'bullied' as £900k cost of blockades is revealed

Read more: Extinction Rebellion activists block UK's largest oil refinery and scale silos

Furious drivers turn violent at eco-mob

Policing the protests has already come at a huge cost - with the Met Police wasting nearly £2m in the first four weeks of the group's activity, and total arrests reaching nearly 850 to date.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was "right" that those who "choose to pursue a path of anti-social, dangerous disruption" faced the prospect of a prison sentence as punishment.

The clampdown on the "guerrilla" tactics of the likes of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain were first put forward in September and cited again in the Home Secretary's speech to the Conservative Party conference last month.

The Home Office said the current law, which sets the penalty at a maximum fine of £1,000, was no longer an adequate deterrent for organisations "determined to cause widespread disruption and break the law".

Read more: 'Historic' global climate deal agreed at COP26 after two weeks of tense talks

Insulate Britain say their protests will continue

Ms Patel said "nobody should have unchecked rights to endanger the public and themselves:.

"There are numerous legitimate ways in which activists can peacefully campaign for meaningful change, and it is right that those who instead choose to pursue a path of anti-social, dangerous disruption should face the prospect of jail," she said.

"It is totally unacceptable that police should be spending their days ungluing faces from dangerous roads. They should be in our communities protecting the vulnerable people who need them most.

"That's why our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is so necessary. The public expect everyone in Parliament to stand up for the hard-working, law-abiding majority, stand up for the police and back the Bill."

Other measures due to be unveiled on Monday will include allowing the police to stop and search people where there is a reasonable suspicion they are carrying items intended to cause disturbance by "locking-on" using glue or other means.

Future amendments will also include bringing in "serious disruption prevention orders", which will give the courts the power to prevent an individual with a history of using disruptive measures from attending certain protests in future.

Orders could apply to someone convicted of protest-related criminal offences such as blocking a motorway, or where there is evidence that they have contributed to similar such protests, the Home Office said.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Florida rapper Julio Foolio has been shot dead

Florida rapper Julio Foolio shot dead during his birthday in Florida

Meg Bellamy played Kate Middleton in The Crown

The Crown star Meg Bellamy reveals trolls branded her 'too fat' to play Kate in the show

Jay Slater's father has urged people to come forward if they have any information on his son's disappearance

'Someone must know something': Jay Slater's father speaks out as search for missing son stretches into second week

Security guard who plotted to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby previously held other women against their will

Security guard who plotted to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby previously held other women against their will

Princess Diana's family home in Mayfair has gone on sale for the first time in decades

'A trophy home with royal connections': Mayfair townhouse where Diana met Dodi on sale for £11m

A shopping centre security guard from Essex, spent almost two years plotting to kidnap and kill Holly Willoughby.

'Obsessed' security guard spent almost two years 'plotting to kidnap, rape and murder' Holly Willoughby

Princess Anne has been injured by a horse

Princess Anne rushed to hospital with concussion after being kicked in the head by horse on country estate

Rishi Sunak has said he is not aware of any other candidates being investigated in the Conservative gambling scandal

Sunak says he's not being investigated in Tory betting scandal and is 'unaware of other candidates being looked at'

Lucy Letby tells retrial she never intended to harm babies in her care

Lucy Letby tells her retrial she never tried to harm any babies in her care

Frederick Allard has been jailed

Predator landlord jailed after demanding sexual favours from women in exchange for reduced rent

Jay Slater's family have shared an image of what is believed to be the last sighting of him

Spanish police issue update on missing Jay Slater after family share CCTV of mystery figure believed to be teen

A man has been rescued following a house explosion in Willington, County Durham

Explosion destroys house and leaves man seriously injured

Polish Politics And More (archives 2016-2022)

No Brexit renegotiation without free movement, warns Michel Barnier in fresh blow for Labour

Labour and the Tories are in a 'conspiracy of silence' about taxes, the IFS has warned

Next government will have to raise taxes, cut services or borrow more, IFS warn as they slam 'conspiracy of silence'

Jay Slater's family have shared an image of what is believed to be the last sighting of him

Missing Jay Slater's 'last sighting' in Tenerife: Family share CCTV of mystery figure believed to be teen

Wes Streeting has said Labour would simplify the gender transition process

Labour will 'simplify burdensome and bureaucratic' gender transition process, Wes Streeting says