Just Stop Oil should be treated like terrorist organisations, government-commissioned report says

13 May 2024, 10:36 | Updated: 13 May 2024, 11:00

A new report will recommend a new category for proscribing protest groups.
A new report will recommend a new category for proscribing protest groups. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Protest groups such as Just Stop Oil and Palestine Action should be banned in a similar way to terrorist organisations, an upcoming proposal will recommend.

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A report from Lord Walney, the government adviser's on political violence, will recommend a new category for proscribing protest groups who regularly use criminal tactics to achieve their aims.

It could restrict a group’s ability to fundraise and its right to assemble in the UK.

The restrictions orders “would be distinct from proscription on terrorism grounds”, the report will add.

Lord Walney has said the overhaul is needed because the threat of arrest is no longer acting as a deterrent for some.

The 100,000-word report, which is set to be published as early as this week, will also recommend a ban on protesters wearing masks during marches.

The Home Office said ministers would consider the recommendations.

Lord Walney said: “Militant groups like Palestine Action and Just Stop Oil are using criminal tactics to create mayhem and hold the public and workers to ransom without fear of consequence.

“Banning terror groups has made it harder for their activists to plan crimes - that approach should be extended to extreme protest groups too.”

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Lord Walney will make the recommendations.
Lord Walney will make the recommendations. Picture: Alamy

A further extract reportedly says: “While the Government clearly has taken steps in recent years to improve understanding of the extreme Right – to bring it up to the level and depth of its understanding of Islamist and jihadist activities – it has not done the same with the far-Left or single-issue threats, violent or non-violent.”

Included in the report’s 41 recommendations is to ban extreme-left protest groups that use criminal tactics, which it suggests could be called ‘Extreme Protest Restriction Orders’.

It reads: “The Government should introduce a mechanism to restrict the activity of organisations which have a policy of using criminal offences... to influence government or public debate.”

Lord Walney told the MailOnline: “The fact people are being arrested is not acting as enough of a deterrent and you look at the length of time it’s taking people to come to trial, the way in which charges are often dropped, and you can understand why organisers are able to basically convince and radicalise people into a mindset where they think they’re going to be able to get away with what they’re doing.”

Just Stop Oil said, however, that the government was the “dangerous radicals that are endangering all of us” through their climate policies”.

The recommendations would impact groups who routinely use criminal tactics to achieve their aims.
The recommendations would impact groups who routinely use criminal tactics to achieve their aims. Picture: Alamy

Palestine Action said the proposals would not deter its campaign, claiming that its actions were in line with most of the British public who wants an arms embargo between the UK and Israel.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Extremism of any kind has no place in our society and we will not tolerate tactics that set out to intimidate, threaten or cause disruption to the law-abiding majority.

"In recent months, we have also witnessed a small number of protesters display violent and hateful behaviour, and the police have our full support in tackling extremism and hate crime.

“We are considering the report's recommendations extremely carefully and will respond in due course.”

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