The new measures to tackle non-violent demonstrations that have a significant disruptive impact on the public came into effect on June 28 as part of changes to the law. The move comes after police criticised the tactics used by some fuel protestors on the M54 this week, which they said endangered other motorists.
West Mercia Police vowed to take action against those they believe put the public at risk during a ‘go-slow’ in Shropshire on Monday morning. Officers were in attendance as protesters travelled in slow convoy on the busy motorway from junctions one to four.
Andy Carloman, who runs Telford based Total Property Care, organised a convoy under the national banner Stand up to Fuel Prices UK Wide, which travelled slowly from Shifnal Services to junction 1 of the M54 and then back, taking around 90 minutes. He said he was disappointed at the criticism from police, adding that he had worked with officers to keep them informed of the convoy’s actions.
Elsewhere, some 12 people were arrested as dozens of campaigners calling for a cut in fuel duty targeted the M4 in South Wales and Somerset, and stretches of the M5 from Devon to Bristol, with rolling go-slow roadblocks in the morning rush-hour.
A Home Office source said that it had a “wealth of powers to deal with disruptive and damaging protests, including imprisonment”.
“The Home Secretary would encourage and support the police to make use of all the powers available to them. Forces need to move people on. These protests are blocking people from getting to work and from carrying out other vital journeys - this is not about whether you believe in the cause or not.”
The stance was supported by Downing Street, with a senior Government source saying: “The Government has given the police a lot of powers to deal with this sort of stuff and we are looking to them to use it. We want to know what they are going to do about it.”
Last month, the Competition and Markets Authority launched a “short and focused review” of how much drivers are being charged for fuel after a request by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs last Tuesday he will carefully consider calls for a “more substantial” fuel duty cut.