UNITED KINGDOM: Police use new anti-protest powers to arrest climate activists

Extract of article by Damien Gayle, published by the Guardian on 30/10/2023 – accessible here.

Police have arrested more than 60 climate activists taking part in a slow march outside parliament in the first use of draconian new anti-protest powers.

The Metropolitan police used section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023, which bans any act “which interferes with the use or operation of any key national infrastructure in England and Wales”, to order an immediate end to a Just Stop Oil protest on Monday morning.

After forming a line and attempting to direct protesters off the road, police began making arrests, according to Just Stop Oil. Pictures and video circulated by the campaign showed officers kneeling on and handcuffing protesters, and carrying them into waiting police vans.

The Met’s use of the new Public Order Act’s powers on Just Stop Oil’s marches marks a significant escalation in its efforts to tackle the climate protest campaign. Previously the force had used section 12 of the old Public Order Act, which gives senior officers the power to place conditions on a protest march.