obstruction and protest

Since the 1835 Highways Act and the implementation of the 19th century police, police have sought to control or disperse protest by classifying stationary groups of people as obstructing the right of free passage along the highway.

gov.uk government takes out further injunction against climate activists

In reaction to the Insulate Britain tactic of obstruction, the government has in October 2021 taken out a High Court injunction against the protestors, though it is specific to particular motorways and A-roads:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-out-further-injunction-against-climate-activists-blocking-key-roads

https://highwaysengland.co.uk/about-us/interim-high-court-injunctions-for-motorways-and-major-a-roads/

Verges are important as they are technically classed as part of the highway, and therefore councils and police have historically tried to protect right of free passage along them as well, classing any encampments on verges or roundabouts as obstruction.

Further reading on ‘obstruction’ and ‘nuisance’ in 19th century policing:

David Churchill,  Crime Control and Everyday Life in the Victorian City: the Police and the Public (Oxford, 2017);

Christopher Hamlin, ‘Nuisances and Community in Mid Victorian England: the Attractions of Inspection’. Social History, 38: 3 (2013), 346-79.

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