Crackdown on animal rights protestors

Police get new powers in dealing with protestors
Police get new powers in dealing with protestors

Police officers will be granted powers to arrest anyone protesting outside the homes of scientists as part of new measures published by the Government.

Animal rights activists could also face up to five years in prison for targeting research centres under the proposals put forward in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill.

The plans follow an upsurge in attacks on scientists and breeders, including malicious phone calls, hoax bombs and arson attacks.

The bill will make it an offence for protestors to cause "economic damage" through intimidation campaigns.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "The simple fact is attacks by animal rights extremists put medical breakthroughs in areas like Aids, cancer and Alzheimer's directly at risk.

"This new law would not affect the important right to peaceful protest, while cracking down hard on those extremists committing crimes - and some horrific acts - against innocent people involved in the supply chain.

"Animal rights extremists pose a real threat to investment in the UK. We want Britain to be the best place in the world for science and our fast growing bioscience industry, worth more than £3 billion a year, is a key part of our world-class science base."

Though the proposals have been welcomed by those working within the research industry, some animal rights campaigners have said that isolated incidents do not justify the introduction of a new law which could hamper legitimate protest.