Priti Patel in fresh bid to push through strict anti-protest measures

Priti Patel will tell MPs that “we do not make policy through mob rule in this country” as she urges them to give their support to the new public order bill.

It represents the home secretary’s latest attempt to introduce measures that have previously been blocked by the House of Lords as part of the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill.

The measures include introducing a new offence of obstructing major transport networks, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail, an unlimited fine, or both.

Interfering with key national infrastructure – such as railways, roads and printing presses – will also become a criminal offence, which would bring a penalty of up to 12 months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

Patel will give a speech on the proposed bill as she opens the second reading debate in the House of Commons on Monday.

The home secretary is expected to say to MPs: “From day one, this government has put the safety and interests of the law-abiding majority first … but recently we have seen a rise in criminal, disruptive, and self-defeating tactics from a supremely selfish minority.

“Their actions divert police resources away from the communities where they are needed most … and we are seeing parts of the country grind to a halt … this is reprehensible behaviour and I will not tolerate it.”

As part of the bill, police will also be given the power to proactively stop and search people to seize items intended for “locking-on” purposes, such as glue or bamboo structures meant for obstructing police.

“Lock-on” tactics, such as protesters glueing themselves to roads, vehicles or buildings, have been repeatedly employed by groups such as Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil.

Courts will also be given new powers to make serious disruption prevention orders, which would make those who have been found to repeatedly cause disruption wear an electronic tag, to ensure that they are not in a particular place where they may commit a “protest-related offence”.

Patel will add: “I will not stand by and let antisocial individuals keep causing misery and chaos for others. The public order bill will empower the police to take more proactive action to protect the rights of the public to go about their lives in peace.

“However passionately one believes in a cause, we do not make policy through mob rule in this country … I will not be deterred from backing the police and standing up for the law-abiding majority, and that’s what the public order bill does.”

Norman Reimer, the chief executive of the group Fair Trials, had said of the home secretary’s latest proposals: “By reintroducing plans that have already been rejected by UK parliamentarians, the UK government appears to be intent on destroying the right to peaceful protest rather than protecting it.”

Meanwhile, Extinction Rebellion (XR) has already announced plans to “bring millions of people on to the streets” in response to the new bill after it was announced in the Queen’s speech earlier this month.

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