Month-long protests by Just Stop Oil amounted to nearly 11,000 police officer shifts lost costing £3.5m, the Metropolitan Police has said. Since 24 April, 78 marches have taken place across London with a further two months planned.
In 60 cases, the Met said “serious disruption” required intervention. Just Stop Oil said it was committed to leaving the roads as soon as the government comes up with a solution to end fossil fuel production.
So far, 45 people have been arrested for breaching the Public Order Act, including eight earlier on Wednesday.
Assistant commissioner Matt Twist said: “The policing of protest is not straightforward. Officers are constantly required to balance the rights of those protesting with the rights of those who are impacted by the protest.
“We are assessing these situations in real-time balancing complex human rights and legal considerations. Londoners can be assured that we are taking these issues seriously and it is clear from the number of times conditions have been imposed and arrests made, that there is no right to seriously disrupt others.
“A short period of engagement and assessment after officers first arrive at each scene is unavoidable, but where we conclude that serious disruption is occurring we are intervening without delay to get traffic moving again.”
The Met has said that Just Stop Oil does not engage with police ahead of time so officers cannot be deployed at or near to the locations of planned protests.
A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil, said: “It is regrettable that so many police hours have had to be wasted policing Just Stop Oil supporters walking slowly on the roads when it is in the government’s power to halt the slow marching overnight.”
The organisation said that according to 170 senior UK lawyers, “breaching the 1.5C Paris temperature goal threatens disorder and the end of the rule of law”, and asked “who will be counting the hours of police officer shifts then?”
The spokesperson added: “So maybe instead of asking ‘when will Just Stop Oil stop incurring the need for Met Police to police them?’ we should all be asking, ‘why doesn’t the government make Just Stop Oil stop by ending all new oil and gas in line with what all their advisors have been telling them all along?’.”
Source: Met Police