35 arrests following protests at M25 service stations
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35 people have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass after two groups of protesters turned up at Clacket Lane and Cobham Services on the M25 earlier today (28 April).
Both forecourts have been cleared and reopened after officers safely removed the protesters using specialist removal equipment, including a protester who had glued himself to the top of a lorry.
Significant damage was caused to the pumps on both forecourts, with a total of 35 pumps damaged at Cobham Services, and a further 20 pumps damaged at Clacket Lane. The HGV pumps at both sites were not targeted and remain open.
Officers were called to both service stations just after 7am following reports that a large number of protesters were at the sites and were gluing themselves to the pumps, to forecourt signs and to vehicles. They were also blocking access and stopping motorists from using the pumps.
Superintendent Graham Barnett said: “Around 40 officers were involved following the activity by protest group Just Stop Oil at Cobham and Clacket Lane Services earlier today. Police responded after reports that pumps were being smashed up and that protesters were gluing themselves to pumps, vehicles and forecourt signs.
“We appreciate that this caused considerable disruption to motorists attempting to use the services and to the petrol stations themselves, who will also have suffered a huge financial loss as a result of this activity.
“All protesters have now been removed and 35 people are in custody. Both forecourts have reopened but unfortunately a large number of pumps have been damaged which means they have not currently in use. However, the HGV pumps were not targeted and are still open for lorry drivers.
“We do appreciate that this incident has taken some time to resolve but given the circumstances, we were required to use officers trained in using specialist de-bonding equipment to safely remove the protesters, and this is a lengthy and complex process. Officers are also required to act within the law and are accountable for the decisions they make and the tactics they use.
“While we are required to facilitate peaceful protest, we will always take action against those who break the law and significantly impact on the lives and livelihoods of others, and clearly if officers are caught up dealing with protest activity, they aren’t elsewhere preventing crime and responding as quickly to reports from the public.”