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Forces consider mutual aid to counter M25 protestors

Mutual aid officers have been drafted in to counter the climate change activists who are protesting on the M25. Officers have warned lives are at risk.

One force dealing with the climate change protests on one of the country’s busiest motorways have drafted in specially-trained extra officers to deal with them.

A mutual aid request was sent by one force – which cannot be named for operational reasons – after the fourth day of activists targeting the M25.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council is leading the operation to ensure roads are kept open.

The NPCC confirmed to Police Oracle that officers trained in dealing with sophisticated demonstrations had been called in.

A spokesman confirmed “One force has requested the assistance of a protestor removal team from another.”

Others are monitoring whether they need to increase available teams after a series of high-risk actions by environmental protestors.

Superintendent Andy Gadd of Kent Police said: “Currently there is not a requirement for mutual aid within Kent Police to deal with protesters on the M25 and the situation is under review with officers working closely with neighbouring forces.”

Hertfordshire's spokesperson told Police Oracle: "We are working closely with other affected forces to ensure that any further activity is dealt with effectively and efficiently." 

In one of the latest incidents on Tuesday morning, motorists alerted Surrey Police that demonstrators were walking down the embankment to the hard shoulder between J9 and 10 of the M25 before making their way onto both the anti-clockwise and clockwise carriageways.

Officers arrested 38 people on suspicion on a variety of offences including criminal damage, causing danger to road users, wilful obstruction of the highway and causing a public nuisance. They are all currently in custody.

So far Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Essex and the Metropolitan Police have all responded to action by Insulate Britain, a group which wants the government to reduce housing emissions.

After another day of incidents, officers warned they are increasingly concerned that lives of protestors and drivers are at risk.

But officers have been trained to ensure they are protected.

Superintendent Gadd said: “The safety of officers and members of the public using the roads is a priority. Officers receive extensive safety training to assist them in dealing with matters on the motorway as well as public order incidents.

“The nature of policing means there are risks to safety when officers are working, however they are equipped to deal with the variety of challenges they face when carrying out their duties.”

Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman of Surrey Police said: “This is the second week of protest activity on one of the busiest roads in the region. Protesters have put their own lives, as well as those of others, at risk by walking onto both carriageways of the M25 during rush hour traffic.”

He added: “Fortunately, we were on scene within three minutes of the first call coming in and took swift and robust action to ensure protesters were removed from both carriageways after they ignored our requests to move on peacefully.

Hertfordshire's spokesperson said the force was managing the considerable risks created by the protests: "At the very core of a police officer’s role, there is the duty to preserve life, protect property and keep people safe, as well as prevent and detect criminal behaviour.

"Police tactics are focused on public safety, which includes the safety of the protestors and the general public, as well as that of our own staff and officers. Officers are highly trained, and operations follow clear, national standards."

Ch Supt Westerman said a multi-agency response is now in place to deal with the on-going situation.

He said: “I would also like to thank our colleagues in other forces and our other partner agencies like National Highways for their continued support.”

A Metropolitan Police traffic officer responded to events on social media: “Whatever your thoughts are regarding the cause, this method of entering a four lane carriageway in this way is so unbelievably dangerous, not just for the protestors but the road users themselves.”

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