New laws planned to tackle protestors who block roads and glue themselves to objects and buildings have been welcomed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire.

The Public Order Bill is said to help crack down on disruptive “guerrilla protests”, with harsher sentences and new criminal offences.

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In Hertfordshire last year, campaign group Insulate Britain targeted several junctions of the M25, while access to the Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead has been blocked by fellow campaign group Just Stop Oil in recent weeks.

Borehamwood Times: Just Stop Oil protesters at Buncefield Oil Depot. Credit: Just Stop Oil Just Stop Oil protesters at Buncefield Oil Depot. Credit: Just Stop Oil

Commissioner David Lloyd said: “I recognise and respect the right to protest as a corner stone of everybody living in a free country. But over the last few years Hertfordshire in particular, has seen a rise in protester activity purely aimed at causing maximum disruption to many thousands of people who are just trying to go about their everyday business.

“Each time these events happen I hear from the public, the vast majority of whom tell me they want tougher action taken. Apart from the frustration and wide-spread misery, lives are being put at risk.

“I welcome the proposed bill which would prevent a minority of protesters from using guerrilla tactics that disrupt the public, businesses, and interfere with emergency services. It would ensure that police have the tools they need to manage and tackle dangerous and disruptive protest tactics better, as well as to prevent major transport projects and infrastructure from being targeted.”

Borehamwood Times: Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David LloydHertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd

The Bill will create new criminal offences of “locking on” and going equipped to “lock on” to other people, objects or buildings in order to cause “serious disruption”, with a maximum penalty of up to six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

A new offence of interfering with key national infrastructure – such as airports, railways and printing presses – will carry a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Borehamwood Times: Some protests by Insulate Britain also saw the M25 itself blocked. Credit: LBCSome protests by Insulate Britain also saw the M25 itself blocked. Credit: LBC

It will also become illegal to obstruct major transport works, such as the HS2 high-speed rail link, again punishable by up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said ministers are determined to prevent protesters bringing the country to “a grinding halt”.

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