Home Secretary Suella Braverman ‘will knock some heads together’ at meeting aimed at finding a way to stop eco protesters causing mayhem on Britain’s roads, sources say
- Downing Street summit will discuss a more effective response to the protests
- Mrs Braverman is expected to urge police to move quicker to prevent disruption
- Just Stop Oil said more than 700 arrests were made in October and November
Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman will today tell police chiefs to take tougher action against radical eco protesters causing misery for travellers.
The Home Secretary has summoned senior police officers to a Downing Street summit to discuss the handling of protests by Just Stop Oil, which repeatedly blocked the M25 and other major roads last month.
Mr Sunak, who is expected to attend part of the meeting, is said to be determined to see a more effective response to protests that have blocked ambulances and fire engines, prevented people getting to work and school and even seen some people miss family funerals.
A Whitehall source said Mrs Braverman would use the meetings to ‘knock some heads together’ and urge the police to move much more quickly to prevent disruption.
Rishi Sunak and Suella Braverman will today tell police chiefs to take tougher action against radical eco protesters causing misery for travellers
Police watch as traffic is held back as an activist from Just Stop Oil occupies a gantry over the M25 near Godstone in Surrey on November 7
Locations of recent Just Stop Oil protests that blocked ambulances and fire engines, prevented people getting to work and school and even seen some people miss family funerals
The source added: ‘The PM has made it very clear that he thinks some of these protests could have been handled better.
‘He wants to make sure they are using their existing powers fully, but we will also be exploring whether their powers are strong enough. If there is more that we need to do then we will do it.’
Former minister Gareth Johnson last week called for the Prime Minister to consider making the group a ‘proscribed organisation’ on a par with terror groups like al Qaeda.
He told the PM: ‘These people are not protesters, they are criminals.’
Mr Sunak responded: ‘The kinds of demonstrations we have seen recently disrupt people’s daily lives, they cause mass misery for the public and they put people in danger.
‘The police have our full support in their efforts to minimise this disruption and tackle reckless and illegal activity.’
Mr Sunak, who is expected to attend part of the meeting, is said to be determined to see a more effective response to protests. Pictured: Just Stop Oil in a new march yesterday in London
Just Stop Oil said more than 700 arrests were made during six weeks of protests during October and November.
The group, which is demanding that the Government halts new oil drilling in the North Sea, has encouraged activists to glue themselves to roads, spray paint on public buildings and throw soup over famous oil paintings.
Militants have launched a fresh wave of disruptive action in London this week, with activists adopting a new tactic of walking slowly along busy roads to avoid arrest while blocking traffic.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries yesterday urged the group to abandon reported plans to slash famous paintings, saying: ‘Cultural vandalism is not the way to make a point about the environment and such actions morph into cultural terrorism.’
Last month two Just Stop Oil activists appeared in court accused of throwing soup on a Van Gogh painting. Pictured: Anna Holland, 20, and Phoebe Plummer, 21
Just Stop Oil protestors are accused of spraying orange paint on luxury car showrooms in Mayfair on October 27
Police chiefs have faced criticism for failing to clear protesters away more quickly, allowing disruption to continue for hours.
Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, who will attend today’s summit, said in October that he was ‘frustrated’ that officers could not do more.
But he said that many of the protests did not pass the legal test of ‘serious disruption’ that triggers police intervention.
Today’s meeting will be attended by police chiefs and police and crime commissioners from the areas targeted by the group, along with London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mrs Braverman held separate talks with police chiefs yesterday about repeated scandals in the service, including the sharing of racist and misogynistic messages.
She also told them to step up action on tackling so-called ‘neighbourhood crimes’ like burglary and anti-social behaviour.