Braverman says ‘fire engine blocking’ Just Stop Oil demo ‘indefensible’

The Home Secretary said she expects police to use the ‘full powers’ available to them to deal with ‘disruptive’ protests

Gina Kalsi
Tuesday 11 October 2022 20:47 BST
Police speak to Just Stop Oil protestors blocking the Mall in London (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Police speak to Just Stop Oil protestors blocking the Mall in London (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said she expects police to use the “full powers” given to them by the Government after fossil fuel protestors reportedly obstructed a fire engine and an ambulance.

Ms Braverman branded the actions of demonstrators from Just Stop Oil in west London as “self-defeating” and “completely indefensible”.

Videos shared online on Tuesday show a fire engine and an ambulance on blue lights unable to get through traffic after 32 protesters – some gluing themselves to the road – blocked three routes in Knightsbridge and Brompton Road in London.

The Home Secretary said police have now made more than 300 arrests during 11 consecutive days of protests in the capital by the group which is demanding the Government halt all new oil and gas licences and consents.

“Blocking ambulances and fire engines and putting lives in danger is completely indefensible,” Ms Braverman tweeted.

“I expect the police to use the full powers we have given them to stop those who are hell bent on disrupting everyone’s lives.

“Our Public Order Bill will strengthen these powers further and toughen the penalties for guerrilla tactics.”

One video showed a stationary fire engine in the middle of a junction near Knightsbridge Underground Station, with protesters blocking the road both behind and in front of the vehicle.

Just Stop Oil later tweeted a video showing protesters moving out of the way of the fire engine with the caption: “Just Stop Oil supporters pause roadblock to let fire engine through.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These sorts of protests which disrupt people’s daily lives, or indeed can stop our emergency services from potentially saving lives, are unacceptable.”

When asked whether members of the public should intervene to remove protesters, the spokesman said while the Government understood the public’s “frustrations” it was “for the police to respond in the first instance to these sorts of protests”.

A spokesperson for the protest group said: “Just Stop Oil policy is, and always has been, to let blue light emergency services through.

“It was reported this morning that emergency services were blocked in Knightsbridge. In reality one of our supporters directed an ambulance away from the road block and our supporters left the road to allow the fire engine to pass.

Given the nature of the event, crews had no prior warning of the road block

London Fire Brigade

“The public are right to be upset, frustrated, irritated and angry – their lives have been disrupted. The Government can stop this today, by making a meaningful statement to end new oil and gas in the UK,” the group added.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Crews were on their way to an automatic fire alarm sounding on Foley Street in Fitzrovia.

“Five fire engines were sent to the scene, with an appliance from Soho Fire Station the first to arrive. Firefighters investigated and found no fire.

“An appliance from Kensington Fire Station was temporarily stopped by a road block and arrived within 14 minutes of being called.

“We work closely with our local authority and emergency service partners whenever there are road closure proposals to minimise impact on our service. However, given the nature of the event, crews had no prior warning of the road block.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that 28 protesters were arrested over the incident in Knightsbridge at Scotch Corner, by Knightsbridge Tube Station.

They were all arrested for alleged wilful obstruction of the highway and have been taken to multiple central London custody suites, where they remain, the force said.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in