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Wiltshire Police Federation

National Chair defends policing of M25 protests

22 September 2021

Polfed News

The National Chair of the Police Federation has defended police officers for their handling of climate change protestors who blocked parts of the M25 after they came under fire for taking a “soft approach”.

This week, demonstrators from Insulate Britain sat in the middle of UK’s busiest motorway, as well as the M11 near Stansted Airport in Essex and the M3 in Surrey, causing major disruption during rush hour.

Frustrations were directed towards police officers, who, yet again, faced trial by media, after a short clip was filmed of an officer dealing with protesters. The clip made headline news across multiple publications, criticising officers for their approach.

National Chair John Apter commented: “Yet again we find our colleagues being unfairly berated across the media by armchair critics who do not understand policing, how police powers work or the incredibly difficult situations they find themselves in.

“Police only have so many powers at their disposal when handling protestors. Police officers have to work within the law. John explained. “When protests evolve, police powers must evolve so we welcome the imposed injunction, granted by National Highways.”

Some commentators asked why pre-charge bail conditions were not imposed in this case, however John explained even if this was applied, once those arrested are released they would go back onto the motorway regardless of any conditions.

“I spoke to some of the officers out there doing their best in these situations and putting themselves at risk,” continued John. “The motorway is a hostile and unforgiving place, it’s beyond reckless that the protesters are putting themselves, my colleagues and the public at risk in this way.

“There’s not enough dedicated officers either on the roads, or to police protests, to deal with these situations in the way the public would expect us to.”