Anti-construction protestors could face six-months in prison, unlimited fines, or both, under tough new proposals announced by the UK government this week.
The news follows the environmental protests carried out by Insulate Britain members in recent weeks, protests that have prompted home secretary Priti Patel to announce that a suite of amendments will be introduced to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill in the House of Lords.
Under the new proposals, the government will bring forward tougher penalties and new police powers to crack down on disruption caused on motorways and other key transport infrastructure.
The measures include a new offence of interfering with the operation of key infrastructure – including motorways, railways, and airports – where the impact will affect the distribution of essential goods, such as fuel and medicine. The new offence would carry a maximum sentence of an unlimited fine, a year imprisonment, or both.
Other measures include penalties for blocking construction. A new offence of obstructing the construction of authorised infrastructure will be introduced, carrying a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine, six months’ imprisonment, or both.
The government will also propose amendments to deal with the lock-on tactics used by groups including Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain. Members of these groups have repeatedly physically attached themselves to roads, trains, planes, and other objects in order to maximise disruption.
A new offence will be introduced to criminalise the act of locking-on and going equipped to lock-on, whereby it causes or is likely to cause serious disruption. The maximum penalties will be set at an unlimited fine, six months’ imprisonment, or both.