Police were caught on film standing around with their hands in their pockets for more than two hours and nicely asking climate anarchists who set up roadblocks on three motorways during rush hour today ‘if they were in discomfort or needed anything’ amid travel chaos on the M25, A3 and Dartford Crossing.
The failure by officers to clear Insulate Britain protesters for two-and-a-half hours sparked fury as a video emerged of a female officer telling them: ‘If any of you have any questions, or are in any discomfort or need anything, just let us know’ – while stricken motorists couldn’t get to work, hospitals and appointments.
Another video showed an officer on his own and being met with silence after asking the demonstrators which of them had organised today’s protest. He then told them, ‘I’m going to have to ask you to move’ before awkwardly leaving. Meanwhile, police had to restrain incensed truck drivers who desperately tried to move eco-warriors who had glued their hands to the road.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has previously condemned similar protests on Twitter, has so far remained silent over today’s events. However, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng tweeted: ‘These actions are not only highly disruptive to those going to work and transporting vital goods, but are putting lives at risk on a busy motorway. Not to mention the resulting traffic delays will only add to vehicle emissions.’
Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion offshoot protest group halted traffic near Junction 23 at South Mimms from 8am while another group shut down the main carriageway of the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey between Junction 10 and Junction 8.
A 50-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following a crash at Junction 9 involving multiple vehicles. In a statement, Surrey Police said the investigation is ongoing and that ‘it is too early to know’ if the crash was caused by the protest. Traffic monitor Inrix said at around 2pm that there was a six-mile traffic queue on the M25 following the accident.