Europe

Drivers left fuming as police ‘chat and laugh’ with climate protesters

Peter Bleksley on how to deal with Just Stop Oil protesters

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Motorists were hoping for robust action but officers simply strolled alongside activists as they slow-marched down the middle of a busy main road.

One furious lorry driver was ordered to “pack it in” by a PC as he repeatedly sounded his horn in frustration – because it was hurting the officer’s ears.

Furious at the delays caused by the demo and appalled by the lack of police action, the trucker said: “They need to get a backbone!”

One man waiting at a bus stop yelled at officers: “Old Bill – What are you doing?” An angry cab driver shouted at the police: “Do your job properly!”

Around a dozen Just Stop Oil activists caused traffic chaos as they ambled down the major road in Southwark, south London, during yesterday’s morning rush hour.

Senior Met Police officers had promised a crackdown on JSO protesters when the group renewed its campaign after a brief lull last month.

Commander Karen Findlay had vowed: “We are again fully prepared. We have a very experienced team with robust policing measures in place to respond quickly and effectively to any incidents of serious disruption to London.”

By exploiting a legal loophole over “serious disruption,” the campaigners appear to have outwitted police.

Slow marching in the middle of busy roads will always cause delays and traffic jams.

But as long as it is not “serious disruption,” ambling protesters will evade arrest. However, they must keep on the move.

Subtle legal distinctions cut no ice with angry motorists and people waiting for buses yesterday as police laughed and joked with the protesters.

At least one officer was seen filming the activists although it appeared to be for an official reason.

One exasperated pedestrian asked a passing PC: “It beggars belief – how are they allowed to do this?”

As the traffic jams built up amid a chorus of car horns, the officer replied: “They are allowed to do that – they’ve got a right of protest.”

Teaching assistant Shernette Godfrey, 49, waiting for a bus stuck in the traffic in Southwark, told the Telegraph: “I don’t mind them protesting, but to block the road, I find it ridiculous.

“People have to go to work, children have to go to school. It’s crazy. Go and protest somewhere else. Stand at the side of the road and protest but don’t walk down the middle of the road.”

Satellite engineer Jack Letchford, said: “This clearly doesn’t work, it just causes outrage for the average working person like myself.

“The police presence seems a bit ridiculous, if anything it seems they’re there to protect them because if they aren’t here, I’m sure there would be trouble.”

Tourist Jackie Forbes added: “They’re holding everybody up. It’s making the roads unsafe and it’s just not fair.

“The police’s hands are tied. I’ve just asked if they can do something and they said, ‘No, we can’t.’”

JSO activists held a second slow march near the Bank of England in the City of London yesterday with similar results.

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