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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Just Stop Oil activists arrested as new police dispersal law comes into force

Police have arrested Just Stop Oil protesters on the day new legislation came into force giving officers greater power to disperse crowds.

Several individuals were handcuffed at a slow march protest near Vauxhall Bridge in central London, after officers read out the updated Section 12 of the Public Order act, which came into effect on Thursday.

Around 30 environmental activists moved from Vauxhall Bridge Road, around the A202 roundabout and towards the Albert Embankment in Vauxhall, south London.

Changes to the Public Order Act allow police officers to make arrests where disruption to the public is “more than minor”.

One Just Stop Oil activist said police were moving “faster” today, as a result of the new legislation.

Canon Peter Lippiett, 76, said the length of time that protesters were allowed to remain in the road had become shorter.

Mr Lippiett said: “The section 12 is making an enormous impact. It’s legal to walk in the streets but the new section 12 has been applied disorganisedly and haphazardly.

“Police are making faster intervention and I think it’s because of this act.”

Another protester, 48, who gave his name as Mark, said: “Police are moving faster today, that’s what we think.

“We don’t know exactly what the impact will be yet, but it seems it is easier to disperse us with this definition of ‘minor’ disruption.”

Motorists shouted at the march as they progressed slowly through the Vauxhall Bridge tunnel towards South Lambeth Road.

Cries of “Get a job” and “imbeciles” could be heard, as drivers honked horns loudly during the march.

An ambulance was among the vehicles slowed behind the protest walk.

Protester Chris, 53, said: “People are very concerned about the changes in law and how difficult it is getting to protest legally, because all we do is non-violent protests, but it is getting harder to do so.”

And Frances, 20, said: “It’s totally unjust. It’s our fundamental human right to protest under the human rights act. We’re not harming anyone.”

She added: “Until they bring in the death penalty, we’ll keep going until the Government stops this death pact with the oil and gas industries.”

Police at the scene confirmed arrests had been made under the updated Section 12 legislation, but emphasised the particular conditions of each arrest varied between individuals.


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Protesters at the march thanked the officers for facilitating the event.

Some 156 slow march protests have taken place in London since April 2023, according to the Home Office.

The average length of time taken between a protest starting and activists being moved out of the road was between 13 and 19 minutes, the Metropolitan Police said in May.

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