Local MP and Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman, asked the Transport Secretary whether the Police have sufficient powers to deal with the protesters on the M25. He highlighted that constituents have raised concerns with him having seen footage online.
Full text of question:
Huw Merriman MP:
There's issues with protesters on the M25, roads very much your responsibility. Are there sufficient powers for the Police to deal with this or are the Police just not using the powers that currently exist?
The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP:
I think the Police have been increasingly stepping up their action, but as we've seen, sometimes, it's the same protesters going back a day or two later and protesting again, so the powers don't allow for the Police to hold people for more than 24 hours and that is creating a problem.
Last night, yesterday, I instructed National Highways, formerly Highways England, to seek an injunction, which was granted last night and will become effective later today. An injunction means that if those protesters don't take note then they could be in contempt of court and that could incur imprisonment. So, you know, it barely need saying but it's irresponsible, it's dangerous, it's completely counterproductive because it actually creates pollution, and unacceptable behavior, which I hope this injunction brings to a close.
Huw Merriman MP:
Are you confident that the Police will enforce because there has obviously been footage and my constituents have raised it of Police talking to those who are on the motorway, but are not actually taking them off the motorway.
Grant Shapps MP:
I saw some of those pictures and I think earlier in the process, obviously it becomes a Home Office issue, but earlier in the process, I think there was a somewhat different approach being taken that I noted yesterday that the Police were on the scene very, very quickly and seem to be removing protesters, from what I saw, much faster.
The injunction will greatly strengthen their hand because, as I say, the same people then can't come back out, or if they do, they're in danger of imprisonment and a fine, which protects the road under the law much more effectively.