Sheffield tree protesters 'will not face arrest', says PCC
Campaigners protesting against tree-felling in Sheffield no longer face arrest under trade union or highway laws, the region's Police and Crime Commissioner has said.
Dr Alan Billings said there was "no mileage" in making the arrests after charges against 14 people were dropped.
He said the arrests put the force into "conflict" with protesters and urged the council to seek other remedies.
Councillor Bryan Lodge said the council was exploring alternative methods.
Sheffield City Council contractors Amey are removing damaged or diseased trees as part of a £2bn scheme, but campaigners say they are also removing healthy trees, which Amey say may cause damage to pavements.
Protesters were arrested under Section 241 of the Trade Union Act in November on suspicion of trying to prevent the work.
However, the charges were dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service said pursuing them was not in the public interest.
Dr Billings told BBC Radio Sheffield arrests would still be made if peaceful protests "turned ugly" but there was "no mileage for the police in making arrests under that legislation".
"As PCC, I do not want police resources spent in this way I would much sooner they be out on the streets catching criminals," he said.
'Understand police reticence'
Mr Lodge said while he did not want to see anyone arrested the council had a legal responsibility to carry out the work.
"We recognise the right of people to protest peacefully but we ask that they do not interfere and do not stop the work that is going on," he said.
"I can understand the reticence from police because when things have gone to the CPS they have taken a view [not to proceed].
"The council are actively considering all options that are available to us to enable the necessary works to be carried out."