Priti Patel's plan for Asbo blitz to bring eco mob to heel

Eco-fanatics are set to be hit with Asbos for blocking roads and face up to six months in JAIL under new law to be tabled by Home Secretary Priti Patel keep Britain on the move

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel will reveal plans for measures to make it an offence
  • The ‘Asbos for crusties’ are hoped to be quicker to enforce than current method
  • In a separate move, Miss Patel will reveal a new offence to deal with XR protests
  • It will be a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’ such as roads

Eco-fanatics will be hit with a new type of Asbo in a fresh attempt to bring their chaotic road protests to an end, Priti Patel will announce today.

The Home Secretary will reveal plans for measures to make it an offence to repeatedly obstruct roads or cause other delays.

The Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders – dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’ – are intended to be quicker to enforce than the Government’s current approach, which has been based on High Court injunctions.

In a separate move, Miss Patel will tell the Conservative Party conference that a specific new offence will be created to deal with protests by Extinction Rebellion protests and its offshoot Insulate Britain.

The Home Secretary will reveal plans for measures to make it an offence to repeatedly obstruct roads or cause other delays

The Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders – dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’ – are intended to be quicker to enforce than the Government’s current approach, which has been based on High Court injunctions. Pictured: he Hangar Lane gyratory on the A40 on Monday

And as fury boils over, activists’ leader says: I’d let 999 patients die

Close to tears, a woman driver confronted eco-protesters and demanded: ‘How can you be so selfish?’

She told the mob blocking the Blackwall Tunnel in east London that she was trying to visit her 81-year-old mother in hospital.

Amid blaring horns, she said to the Insulate Britain protesters: ‘She’s in the ambulance, she’s going to the hospital in Canterbury… I need to go to the hospital, please let me pass. This isn’t OK… How can you be so selfish?’

The activists – one of four groups that set up roadblocks at key locations in London during yesterday’s rush hour – refused to let her through. Tensions flared as furious drivers yanked protesters off Wandsworth Bridge in the south of the capital before waving a paramedic crew and other cars through.

One motorist could be heard saying: ‘There’s an ambulance, you stupid p****, get out of the road,’ as the activists were dragged aside.

Close to tears, a woman driver confronted eco-protesters and demanded: ‘How can you be so selfish?’

The confrontations came as the Government sought sweeping new legal measures to end the roadblocks which, until today, targeted the M25, the M4 and the port of Dover. Insulate Britain leader Roger Hallam, 55, backed his followers’ hardline stance and said he would not move even if there was an ambulance containing ‘someone who could potentially die’.

Hallam, a failed Welsh farmer, has not been at the blockades, instead directing affairs from his lover’s flat in south-east London.

Yesterday others caught in the chaos described how they missed vital appointments. Bill Wilson, 55, said he was forced to cancel three important scans at the Royal Brompton Hospital in west London. ‘It is extremely frustrating. Not only for myself, but also the cost to the NHS of cancelled appointments, including consultants’ time and state-of-the-art equipment sitting there unused.’

Another victim of the jams said he had been worried his autistic daughter of 15 could have had a seizure triggered by anxiety after she was stuck in the traffic for 45 minutes.

Hanger Lane in west London and Arnos Grove in north London were also targeted. By late morning there had been 38 arrests.

It will be made a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’, including major roads, railways, seaports, power stations and newspaper printing presses.

The new crime will carry up to six months’ imprisonment and will be dealt with at magistrates’ courts only – after sympathetic juries acquitted a series of XR activists in the Crown courts.

It will give police new options when arresting offenders who block motorways or other sites, and make it more likely that protesters will face jail.

A Conservative source said police would ‘now have no excuse’ for not arresting and charging Insulate Britain troublemakers. However, the new powers will take months to come into force.

‘Freedom to protest is a fundamental right our party will forever fight to uphold,’ Miss Patel will tell the conference in Manchester later today. ‘But it must be within the law.

‘Measures already going through Parliament will ensure these criminals can be brought to justice for the disruption they are causing. But we are going further to close down the legal loopholes exploited by these offenders.

‘I will increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway; criminalise interference with key infrastructures such as roads, railways and our free press; and give the police and courts new powers to deal with the small minority of offender’s intent on travelling around the country, causing disruption and misery across our communities.’

Another new criminal offence of ‘disrupting a highway’ – announced earlier this week – will carry up to six months’ imprisonment. It will apply to motorways, A-roads and all types of local roads, a Conservative source said.

The Asbo-style orders, if breached, could carry up to two years’ imprisonment for contempt of court, it is understood.

Sources said it would be targeted at ‘a small number of prolific offenders who travel around the country, causing disruption and misery to others’.

They would be enforced on individuals with a history of disruption or where there is ‘intelligence suggesting they are likely to commit a criminal offence from attending particular protests’.

Crucially, police would be able to arrest individuals on the spot if they breached an order that had been imposed on them by a court. Anti-social behaviour orders, or Asbos, were introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998.

They were imposed on yobs whose behaviour ’caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress’. Breaching the civil orders carried up to five years’ imprisonment. They were repealed by the Tories in 2014.

All Miss Patel’s new measures will be introduced to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill next month. If approved by Parliament, they are expected to be in force by spring next year.

The moves come after weeks of protests which the police seemed powerless to stop.

Insulate Britain’s campaign of roadblocks entered a fourth week yesterday, as activists targeted key locations in London.

It will be made a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’, including major roads, railways, seaports, power stations and newspaper printing presses. Pictured: Wandsworth Bridge on Monday

They have repeatedly defied an interim injunction, granted by the High Court last month, which prevented named protesters from blocking the M25.

Ministers are now understood to be seeking a more wide-ranging injunction, which could serve as a stop-gap before the new powers are introduced.

In her conference speech today, Miss Patel will also insist she has ‘redoubled’ her efforts to tackle violence against women and girls following Sarah Everard’s murder.

The Home Secretary refuses to utter the name of Miss Everard’s killer, former police officer Wayne Couzens, who was handed a whole life sentence last week.

‘I know all our thoughts remain with Sarah Everard’s family and friends. Her murderer, whose name I refuse to repeat, was a monster,’ Miss Patel will say.

‘His explicit intention was to instil fear and terror in women and girls. I say this as Home Secretary, but also as a woman.

‘Such unconscionable crimes and acts of violence against women and girls have no place in our society.’

Miss Patel will also set out her determination to tackle the Channel migrant crisis.

She will say: ‘My New Plan for Immigration is already making its way through Parliament.

‘At the heart of this Plan is a simple principle. Control. That is not unreasonable.

‘France is a safe country, one not riven by war or conflict. There is no reason why any asylum seeker should come to the United Kingdom directly from France.’

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