Injunction to Protect the M25

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:20 pm on 22nd September 2021.

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Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 1:20 pm, 22nd September 2021

My hon. Friend is right to say that this type of protest has caused significant concern across the country for many people who rely on the roads for their livelihoods and to get around. As I say, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will strengthen police powers to deal with this issue. There is an offence of blocking the highway at the moment, which the police are using to remove those protesters faster and faster. I am very grateful to those forces that have upped their game over the past few days, to the extent that Surrey police arrived within three minutes of the most recent blockage. Unfortunately, however, the penalty that attaches to that offence is quite weak—it is a level 3 fine, which is up to £1,000. The one thing we know about these groups is that they are well-financed, and this penalty is not proving to be enough of a deterrent. We hope that the injunction, the breach of which carries an unlimited fine and possibly up to two years in prison, will give us the deterrent we need while we wait for that legislation to appear.