Police claim it is “very difficult” to bring charges against green activists blocking the M25 after the same junction was targeted twice in six hours.
Lisa Townsend, Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the police are receiving “an enormous amount of flak” over their response but she insisted officers are “doing their utmost to prevent the disruption”.
Insulate Britain, which is calling on the Government to insulate all UK homes by 2030 to cut carbon emissions, has continued to block the M25 despite the Government obtaining an injunction prohibiting protesters from doing so.
On Wednesday they glued themselves to the road on a roundabout at junction 3, the Swanley Interchange in Kent, at around 7.30am.
Eleven people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway and conspiracy to commit criminal damage as the demonstration was cleared.
But the group returned at 1pm when a further 16 arrests were made for the same offence.
All 27 people are being held in custody.
The High Court injunction obtained by the Government means anyone blocking the motorway could be found to be in contempt of court, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
But Ms Townsend said: “It has been very difficult for the police because if they charge the protesters with a relatively minor offence, it is likely to be discontinued.
“If they try to elevate the charge to a more serious one, they are finding it is not reaching the necessary threshold.
“The public deserves to see a response from all parts of the criminal justice system and it is unfair for the police to be blamed if people do not end up before the courts.”
WHY HAVE INSULATE BRITAIN RETURNED TO BLOCK THE M25 JUNCTION FOR THE SECOND TIME TODAY?
— Insulate Britain (@InsulateLove) September 29, 2021
Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, said in a statement: “We are going nowhere. You can raid our savings. You can confiscate our property. You can deny us our liberty and put us behind bars.
“But shooting the messenger can never destroy the message: that this country is going to hell unless you take emergency action to stop putting carbon into the air. Boris get on with the job.”
Wednesday was the seventh day that the group has targeted the M25.
Activists welcomed a pledge by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to insulate every home that needs it in Britain over the next decade.
One woman glued to the road said: “That’s excellent news. Let’s get the Labour Party in.
“It would cut UK emissions by 15%, it’s the easiest thing to do.”
Another woman added: “When will the Conservatives do the same thing?”
As well as targeting the London ring road, protesters have blocked other important routes including the A1(M) and A20 near the Port of Dover.