Vegan activists arrested over £80,000 damage at Muller site

Police at the Willenhall site (C) Animal RebellionPolice at the Willenhall site (C) Animal Rebellion

Vegan activists protesting against the dairy industry have been criticised by the police after a group broke into a milk processing site and punctured 200 truck tyres, causing an estimated GBP80,000 worth of damage. Members of Animal Rebellion targeted Muller's dairy in Willenhall, West Midlands in the early hours of Tuesday 6 September. A group forced entry through the perimeter fence before using drills to puncture HGV delivery truck tyres, West Midlands Police said (see video below).

See also: Animal Rebellion plots major disruption to UK dairy supply The force arrested 11 people, four men in their 20s and seven women aged between 21 and 55, for alleged offences, including criminal damage and aggravated trespass.

'Inconvenience'

Chief superintendent Ian Parnell said: "We will always respect people's right to peaceful protest. But what we cannot do is stand by and allow wanton criminal damage that is going to result in significant repair bills and inconvenience."

Sites run by Arla, Muller and Freshways in the Midlands and southern England have been targeted by hundreds of activists this week, who say they are taking non-violent action to "stop the supply of dairy". More than 100 people have so far been arrested. The milk processors say production is running as normal and supply has been unaffected.

The impact of the demonstrations on supermarket milk supplies is yet to be fully determined. Arla's dairy in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire and Muller's Droitwich (Worcestershire), Bridgwater (Somerset) and Severnside (Gloucestershire) sites have all been targeted, in addition to Freshways' Acton site in London. Pictures and footage shared by Animal Rebellion on social media show activists on top of trucks and milk tankers, as well as blocking site entrances and chaining themselves to vehicles.

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Thames Valley Police made 31 arrests at Arla's site in Aylesbury, where the demonstrations put considerable strain on the force's resources.

Assistant chief constable Dennis Murray said: "Our response to the protest has reduced our ability to effectively investigate crimes and protect vulnerable individuals across the Thames Valley." Muller criticised the activists for endangering its staff by bringing drills and knives to puncture vehicle tyres. A spokesperson for Muller UK and Ireland said: "This small group of activists don't represent the 96% of adults in Britain who choose milk every week and are our priority.

"During a cost of living crisis we will continue to ensure that it reaches families, including vulnerable members of society."

A spokesman for Animal Rebellion said: "We'd like to reiterate our commitment to non-violent action, which includes the drilling of tyres to immobilise milk trucks."

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