The Home Secretary has renewed plans to protect the public from highly disruptive protest tactics such as slow walking

Under new legislation introduced today (28 April 2023), police will be empowered to intervene against highly disruptive slow marching tactics used to block roads and cause chaos to the lives of the hard-working public.

This legislation will support the Public Order Bill, which passed through Parliament yesterday, by clearly setting out what is meant by ‘serious disruption to the life of the community’. This will give police the clarity they have asked for on when to use their existing powers to break up the slow marching tactics protesters have used to halt traffic across the UK.

Today’s legislation, alongside the Public Order Bill, is the latest in a series of measures the Government has taken to clamp down on selfish, guerrilla protest tactics and bringing in new criminal offences and tougher penalties for those who intentionally inflict misery on the public.

The Public Order Bill will:

  • create a new criminal offence for interfering with key national infrastructure, such as roads, airports and railways, with perpetrators facing 12 months behind bars
  • make it illegal to ‘lock-on’ to others, objects, or buildings, carrying a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine
  • allow police to carry out Stop and Search when they believe protestors are setting out to inflict serious disruption, so police can intervene before chaos is caused

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

Selfish, disruptive protesters are wreaking havoc in people’s everyday lives across the country and this must be brought to a stop.

This is why we are bringing forward this new law to clearly define serious disruption as requested by police chiefs.

Not only will the Public Order Bill, passed yesterday by Parliament, introduce new criminal offences for causing serious disruption, this new legislation permits the police to clear the roads of slow marching protesters who are hell-bent on causing chaos across the UK.

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said:

The British public do not deserve to have their daily lives disrupted by the self-indulgent, criminal behaviour we have seen in some recent protests.

With the Public Order Bill passing in Parliament yesterday and these new measures, we are protecting the hard-working majority’s right to go about their day free from disruption.

The legislation will be laid as a Statutory Instrument in Parliament and will be debated in both the House of Commons and House of Lords before it comes into law.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Public Order and Public Safety, Chief Constable BJ Harrington, said:

Policing is not anti-protest, but there is a difference between protest and criminal activism, and we are committed to responding quickly and effectively to activists who deliberately disrupt people’s lives through dangerous, reckless, and criminal acts.

It is the responsibility of Parliament make the law, and our job to enforce it. We have advised and provide professional advice to the Home Office to inform decisions about public order legislation. This has been based on ensuring that we can discharge our responsibilities appropriately, while balancing the rights of the public who are going about their daily business lawfully, and the rights of those protesting.

Published 28 April 2023