July 2nd 2023.
Today, the Home Office released new powers to help police crack down on environmental activists. This includes the ability for the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police to move static protests.
The most notable of these changes is the criminalization of tunnelling, which now carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Additionally, carrying equipment to tunnel with could lead to six months in jail, and obstructing major transport works is also now illegal.
The Home Office said these changes come in response to the disruption caused by Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, as well as the cost of tunnelling at HS2 construction sites.
Suella Braverman, the Home Office Minister, commented on the new powers, saying, “Hard-working people want to be able to go about their daily lives without disruption from a selfish minority. The public have had enough of their lives being disrupted by selfish protesters. The mayhem we’ve seen on our streets has been a scandal."
Ms Braverman also said that the changes will protect journalists reporting on protests, so they can do their job without fear of arrest.
The new powers come as protesters in London have glued their hands to the road near Trafalgar Square, illustrating the urgency of the issue. It is unclear yet how effective the new powers will be in preventing further disruption, but it is certain that the Home Office is taking steps to ensure the roads remain open and people can go about their daily lives.
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