The judge at a trial of two anti-fracking campaigners warned them that taking part in protests in future could be expensive.
Isabelle Bish and Samantha Gibson were found guilty after a trial of obstructing the highway during a lock-on protest outside the Horse Hill oil exploration site near Horley in Surrey last year. Court report
Passing sentence, District Judge Adrian Turner said: “I do urge both of you to think very carefully about how you conduct yourselves at protests.
“I have warned you that the financial consequences of taking part in a protest could be expensive.”
DJ Turner was referring to the Criminal Court Charge which will be imposed on anyone convicted of an offence committed after 13th April this year.
The charge is added to fines, victim surcharge and any legal fees, regardless of the personal circumstances of a defendant. For the least serious offences, it starts at £150 for people who plead guilty and £520 for people convicted after a trial.
DJ Turner said the courts had no discretion about whether to make the charge.
Netpol, the organisation which monitors the police, said the charges could discourage first time and low income campaigners from taking part in anti-fracking protests.
It described the charge as “most disproportionate” for least serious offences. It suggested that people convicted after a trial for aggravated trespass were likely to face a fine of £200-£300 but an additional flat fee of £520.
“The new charge therefore places a potentially large financial burden on anyone who choose to take part in non-violent disobedience”, Netpol said.