Last thing we want to see! Police urged take zero tolerance approach to fuel protesters

Fuel protesters smash petrol pumps at Clacket Lane Services

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There are fears that if action isn’t taken then “go-slow” protests on motorways could continue. On Monday, there were a number of protests with vehicles travelling at less than 30 mph across two lanes of motorways.

Those affected include the M4 and Prince of Wales bridge over the River Severn, the M5 in Devon, the M32, the A38, the M180 in Lincolnshire, the A12 in Essex, the A92 in Scotland and the A64 near York.

Police made 13 arrests during the demonstrations organised by a new group known as Fuel Price Stand Against Tax demonstrating against record fuel prices.

However, like other direct action groups, such as Insulate Britain or Just Stop Oil, they aren’t motivated by environmental considerations.

Protesters have warned that they will continue with further demonstrations unless the Government does more to tackle soaring fuel prices.

Petrol has risen from £1.45 a litre to around £1.91 since the start of the year with 45 percent of the cost now coming from VAT and fuel duty.

According to senior Government sources, Home Secretary Priti Patel is expecting police to use new powers to ensure that any future fuel protests are contained.

Downing Street backed up Ms Patel’s stance with the Prime Minister expecting the police to take tougher action under the Police ,Crime,Sentencing and Courts Act.

The act gave a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment for blocking a public highway and an unlimited fine. 

Although the act is primarily aimed at tackling environmental protests, ministers argue they could be applied to fuel protests as well.

A senior Government source told The Times that they want the police to take action to prevent further disruption over the summer.

They said: “The Government has given the police a lot of powers to deal with this sort of stuff and we are looking to them to use it.

“We want to know what they are going to do about it. 

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“The last thing we want to see is these kinds of protests continuing and disrupting people’s travel plans over the summer.

“We expect the police to enforce the law.

“Through our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, we have given the police a wealth of powers to deal with disruptive and damaging protests, including imprisonment and unlimited fines for those blocking a highway — actions which inflict further pain on those affected by rising prices.

“The home secretary would encourage and support the police to make use of all the powers available to them.”

A separate Government source argued that the police should prosecute any protesters who had filmed themselves driving.

They said: “That should be an immediate six points on their licence and we would expect the police to pursue that.”

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