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New UK legislation grants police expanded powers to clamp down on protests disrupting traffic movement

Protesters can face up to three years in prison if they are found digging underground tunnels to obstruct building works in the country. Obstruction of major transportation projects carries a sentence of six months.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee London Published on: July 02, 2023 22:55 IST
The British police will now have the power to move static
Image Source : AP The British police will now have the power to move static protests under the new Public Order Act.

A new legislation on Sunday has granted expanded powers for the British police to crack down on protests and target demonstrators disrupting traffic movements and infrastructure works.

The British police will now have the power to move static protests under the new Public Order Act, a move the UK officials said was taken to stop "disruption from a selfish minority", AP reported. 

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said, "The public have had enough of their lives being disrupted by selfish protesters. The mayhem we’ve seen on our streets has been a scandal."

The recent legislation came in the wake of several environmental protest groups who have staged multiple high-profile protests in the middle of busy highways and roads to raise awareness of climate change.

Protesters can face up to three years in prison if they are found digging underground tunnels to obstruct building works in the country. Obstruction of major transportation projects carries a sentence of six months. Protesters attacking themselves to other persons or buildings has also become a criminal offense under the new law.

Critics of the new legislation law have said that the laws threaten the right to protest in the UK.

Last year, hundreds of protesters were arrested in the UK for obstructing public movement by blocking roads and bridges. Activists resorted to sitting in the middle of the roads or attaching themselves to the roadways during the demonstrations.

According to police, it is costly to deal with the protests and thousands of officers were diverted from other important work, such as dealing with crime, to respond to protesters.

(with AP inputs)

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