M25 climate protests: Home Secretary vows to crack down on ‘guerilla’ activism

Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters occupying the clockwise and anti-clockwise lanes on the M25 in Surrey this morning. Issue date: Tuesday September 21, 2021.
Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters occupying the clockwise and anti-clockwise lanes on the M25 in Surrey on Tuesday Credit: PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel is to give more powers to police to crack down on "guerilla" activism after an environmental group blocked the M25 five times in a week.

Ms Patel has said the government wishes to seek a court injunction to stop the protestors from causing further disruption.

Alongside Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Ms Patel said the Home Office is looking to seek a court injunction against the Insulate Britain group in a bid to “ensure they cannot keep disrupting and endangering people’s lives”.

The comments come after Surrey Police on Tuesday arrested 38 activists from the group who targeted junctions 9 and 10 of Britain’s busiest motorway at 7.57am.

Police officers carry away a protester who had glued herself to a slip road at Junction 4 of the A1(M), near Hatfield. Credit: PA

Footage taken at the scene showed the protesters walking on to the motorway and sitting down on the ground in front of moving traffic.

Some then held up banners reading “Insulate Britain” and poured blue paint on to the road, before they were dragged away by officers.

Ms Patel and Mr Shapps condemned the tactics of the protesters, adding police have their support to take “decisive action” against any future disruptive demonstrations.

Writing in a column for the Daily Mail, they said: “(The protesters) have broken the law, undermined the cause they believe in, alienated the public, and created extra pollution, in one of the most self-defeating environmental protests this country has ever seen.

“We are giving (police) powers to better manage such guerrilla tactics in future.

Surrey Police on Tuesday arrested 38 activists from the group who targeted junctions 9 and 10 of the M25 Credit: Insulate Britain/PA

“In the medium-term, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will put public nuisance on a statutory footing, ensuring there are appropriate sentences for the harm caused.”

Insulate Britain confirmed it led the demonstration on Tuesday, adding that new people have joined its campaign to improve home insulation in addition to the others who have been involved in similar demonstrations in Hertfordshire, Kent, Essex and Surrey over the past two weeks.

It added that the recent rise in gas and electricity costs has “increased the urgency” for change and it would end its campaign as soon as it hears a “meaningful commitment” to its demands.