Police given new powers to curb animal rights extremists

Police are to be given new powers to arrest animal rights extremists who protest outside scientists' homes, the Government confirmed today.

The crackdown will also give officers the power to ban protesters from the vicinity of someone's home for three months.

Harassment laws will be strengthened to deal with campaigns aimed at a groups of people working for the same company, such as an animal research laboratory.

At present, the courts have only applied harassment laws to campaigns which have targeted individuals.

Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "By toughening up the law on protests and harassment, and with robust enforcement by the police, and courts, the Government intends to put a stop to the animal extremists' reign of terror.

"It is wholly unacceptable that a small number of criminal extremists attempt to stop individuals and companies going about their legitimate business."

She added: "The Home Office has already provided the police with tough powers to counter animal extremists and these powers are already being used to good effect, but more needs to be done.

"People have the right to campaign lawfully and peacefully against the use of animals in scientific research.

"But they do not have the right to intimidate people and their families in their own homes, nor do they have the right to harass people at work or destroy their livelihoods."

The new moves will make it an offence for a person to be "outside a home for the purpose of representing to or persuading the resident, or anyone else, that he should not do something he is entitled to do, or that he should do something he is not obliged to do, and causing harassment, alarm or distress to the resident".

The 1997 Protection from Harassment Act will be extended to cover harassment of two or more people who are connected, such as employees of the same company.

It will apply even if each individual is harassed on only one occasion, a Home Office spokesman said.

The detailed proposals were set in out a joint Home Office–Department for Trade and Industry paper entitled Animal Welfare: Human Rights – Protecting People from Animal Rights Extremists.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "I am proud of the advances in medical research that have been brought about by the work of UK scientists and businesses who make a huge contribution to our economy and prosperity.

"Our lifespan would be shorter, our health worse and our environment and country poorer without these people who carry it out.

"Animal rights extremists do not have the right to harass and physically attack those involved in lawful business and research."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future