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Suella Braverman slams 'militant, selfish and disruptive' Just Stop Oil eco-zealots urging police to 'intervene'

26 April 2023, 08:29 | Updated: 26 April 2023, 08:50

Suella Braverman urged police to 'step in and make arrests' where appropriate during protests
Suella Braverman urged police to 'step in and make arrests' where appropriate during protests. Picture: LBC/Alamy/Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Suella Braverman has slammed eco-protestors as "selfish and disruptive", saying the police "must definitely intervene and arrest" if they cause serious disruption.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the home secretary described protest groups, such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, as "militant eco-zealots".

Asked by Nick what her instructions to police are during protests, Ms Braverman said: "I think it all depends on individual circumstances."

Ms Braverman continued: "These eco-zealots are selfish, they're disruptive and they're causing misery to many people who can't get to work, who can't get to hospital, who can't get to school.

"If they're causing a level of disruption which is serious, which meets the criminal threshold, then the police must definitely intervene and arrest."

Suella Braverman on 'militant protesters' and 'eco-zealots'

It comes after footage emerged of police intervening in central London to stop a frustrated driver who got out of his car to confront eco-protesters blocking his road to work.

The unnamed man confronted the Just Stop Oil protesters on Haymarket in central London on Monday, ripping the orange banner they were holding from their hands.

The Haymarket driver found himself being scolded by police for leaving his vehicle, to his surprise.He told the police liaison officers: "I need to go to work". He asked them: "What are you guys doing? What are you doing?

"I'm going to be late today! What are you doing?"

Read More: Angry driver who confronts eco-protesters blocking the road and snatches their banner gets told off by police himself

The home secretary went on: "We have seen, incidentally, over recent years, approximately a thousand arrests being made, hundreds of convictions.

"In fact, last week, we saw one such arrest leading to a custodial sentence for one of the protestors who was hanging from the gantries near the Dartford tunnel."

LBC spoke exclusively to Marcus Decker, 34, after he was sentenced on Friday to two years and seven months for causing a public nuisance by scaling a bridge on the Dartford Crossing.

He told LBC he “wasn’t expecting” the lengthy sentence, but said he’d rather be in prison than take no action on the climate crisis.

Decker, who is a qualified teacher, said he didn’t believe his punishment was fair because of “the wider situation”.

Read More: Activist jailed for scaling Dartford Bridge slams sentence saying climate crisis 'should've been taken into account'

Read More: Suella Braverman calls for more stop and search as she slams police for 'dancing in the street' and 'debating gender online'

Later today, Ms Braverman will tell police she wants to see them focus on criminal justice over social justice as Rishi Sunak said almost 20,000 new officers have been hired.

The home secretary is expected to tell forces they should be using "good old-fashioned common sense" instead of focusing too heavily on "political correctness".

The Prime Minister said on Tuesday night that he believed the Government was "on the cusp" of having recruited 20,000 new officers for England and Wales - a key pledge dating back to Boris Johnson's election win in 2019.

Data published by the Home Office on Wednesday morning will reveal if it has managed that.

Ms Braverman is then due to speak at the launch of the anti-crime campaign group the Public Safety Foundation.

She is set to say: "Common sense policing means police focused on delivering criminal justice, not social justice. That's what the public wants.

Read More: Home Secretary Suella Braverman claims people arriving in the UK on small boats have 'values at odds with our country'

Suella Braverman will tell police to focus on criminal justice not social justice
Suella Braverman will tell police to focus on criminal justice not social justice. Picture: Alamy

I believe in the police. But the policing in which I believe isn't riven with political correctness but enshrined in good old-fashioned common sense

- Suella Braverman

"I believe in the police. But the policing in which I believe isn't riven with political correctness but enshrined in good old-fashioned common sense."

Her comments come after criticism at how officers have policed events.

A man came close to arrest on Tuesday morning following a heated confrontation with Metropolitan Police officers, after footage emerged showing him attempting to push eco-protesters out the way of standstill traffic.

Officers told him that pushing them would amount to assault.

Police had previously been criticised for doing the macarena at a Pride event in Lincoln, with some branding it as "woke".

Prime Minister Claims Recruitment of 20,000 New Officers is Almost Complete

Mr Sunak is hoping to bat away criticism from his opponents about police recruitment, with suggestions it was lagging behind its commitment to replacing thousands of roles slashed during austerity.

It had until the end of March to reach the 20,000 figure.

Mr Sunak said: "When I stood at the steps of Downing Street six months ago, I made clear that I would do whatever it takes to cut crime and make our communities safer. At the heart of that pledge is recruiting 20,000 additional police officers.

"We await the final statistics expected today but, as I have previously set out, I am confident we are on the cusp of meeting that promise. This would be a significant moment, meaning we have more police officers in England and Wales than ever before.

Read more: 'If you do that it's a crime': Police warn motorists it's assault if they move Just Stop Oil protesters off road

Rishi Sunak said the Government is on the "cusp" of recruiting 20,000 new officers
Rishi Sunak said the Government is on the "cusp" of recruiting 20,000 new officers. Picture: Alamy

"This is not only about putting more officers on our streets, it has also been a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change the face of policing, attracting more women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and making the police become more representative of the communities they serve."

£3.6 Billion Plan to Recruit 20,000 Officers Set to Cost £18.5 Billion Over Decade

Figures in January showed more than 3,000 officers needed to be recruited to hit the target.

There have been fears that a rush to bring in the new cops will lead to lower-quality or even rogue cops being hired.

The Sunday Telegraph reported some forces were bringing back failed candidates to meet the target.

And inspectors for His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said problems within the Metropolitan Police were being made worse by the number of young and inexperienced staff brought in as part of the recruitment drive.

Sir Mark Rowley previously questioned the wisdom of recruiting so many officers in such a short space of time.

The Home Office has insisted they will all have to take part in the "rigorous" vetting process.

The plan will have cost £3.6 billion by March, with a total cost of £18.5 billion over the next decade.

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