Just Stop Oil (JSO) protests have cost police more than £3.5 million in the past month as the campaign group stages “an indefinite campaign of civil resistance” to end all new oil, gas and coal projects in the UK.
The huge cost is on top of £7.5 million the force spent between October and December last year dealing with the JSO action. The protests have also cost nearly 11,000 officer shifts in one month.
Since 24 April, 45 JSO supporters have been detained by police across 78 marches, with frustration from some drivers escalating into heated confrontations. In 60 cases, the Metropolitan Police said "serious disruption" required intervention.
The Met revealed the figures as nine more JSO supporters were arrested on Wednesday (24 May) during the group’s latest slow road-blocking marches.
Police now have powers to force them to move onto the pavement, but the nine supporters allegedly failed to do so and were subsequently arrested.
Met Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the time between officers arriving at each scene and imposing conditions to move protesters out of the road is between 13 and 19 minutes.
He said: “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.”
On Tuesday (23 May) a man was handcuffed by police after appearing to push two JSO supporters out of the road on Blackfriars Bridge in London. While
Mr Twist said the force “absolutely understands why those who are caught up in traffic delays will be frustrated”, but urged the public “not to intervene or take matters into their own hands”.
He said the public should instead “call the police, let us know where the incident is and we will get there quickly”.
He added that a widely shared video of a man pushing supporters out of the road “has reignited the strongly held public feelings about this protest tactic and how we are responding to it”, but the public “must recognise that short clips of individual incidents don’t tell the whole story of a much larger policing operation”.
A JSO spokesperson 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 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?’."