Environmental campaigners who blocked the M25 have been branded “domestic terrorists” by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Members of Insulate Britain staged several demonstrations on the London ring road on Wednesday – leading to dozens of arrests and frustrating motorists during the morning rush hour – as part of a campaign to get the government to pledge greater action on the climate emergency.
In a Tweet on Thursday, Marc Jones said: “My personal view. If you knowingly and purposely block major roads, rail, supply of food and or utilities then you are committing a form of domestic terrorism and should be treated as such swiftly and robustly.
“Clearly we cannot continue to accept this kind of behaviour.”
Questioned further by Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines, Mr Jones said he believed in “everyone’s right to protest but equally everyone’s right to go about their business too”.
“Whilst the overarching aims of environmental groups may be laudable I believe they should consider the need to take the public with them to gain wider support if they are to be successful,” he said.
“It is not acceptable that the national infrastructure of this country can be interrupted by any group for their own ends.”
My personal view. If you knowingly and purposely block major roads, rail, supply of food and or utilities then you are committing a form of domestic terrorism and should be treated as such swiftly and robustly. Clearly we cannot continue to accept this kind of behaviour. https://t.co/3pzYFUrswz
— Marc Jones (@MarcJonesLincs) September 16, 2021
Mr Jones said the police crime and sentencing bill – which is currently going through the House of Lords – would provide the police with “the tools they need to tackle the ever-changing challenges of policing including the appropriate managing of protests”.
Mr Jones said he would not dictate policing tactics to officers, but would support policing to “deliver appropriately robust action to keep our economy working and our way of life protected”.
Following the events on Wednesday, Insulate Britain said they would continue to take direct action.
It is the latest in a series of protests in recent years, some of which have seen central London areas blocked off for days at a time.
In Lincolnshire, Extinction Rebellion has actively blocked off roads, protested outside local firms, and covered cash machines outside local banks in stickers.
Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, almost half of all Lincolnshire Police-attended protests were Extinction Rebellion or climate change events.