Four arrests after Extinction Rebellion cover Barclays in Birmingham with fake oil and spray paint

Four people have been arrested after damage was caused to a Barclays Bank in Birmingham this morning.

Officers from West Midlands Police responded to reports that damage had been caused during a protest and four people have been taken into custody on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Activists from the group Extinction Rebellion held a protest outside the branch which was covered in spray paint and fake oil.

In a statement, the group claimed to be highlighting the bank's funding of investment in fossil fuels using non-violent methods.

They said their action, which started at 8am on the high street, involved washable fake oil, engagement with the public, and a presence outside the branch holding banners.

It's part of widespread protests across the county this morning which the group have defended by saying there will be no permanent damage to property and that no-one will be hurt.

In a statement issued by the group, one of the protesters who gave her name as Louise, 51, from Balsall Heath said, “I have two children and two grandchildren and I’m afraid for their futures, especially my grandchildren.

"By continuing to support fossil fuel industries, Barclays Bank are destroying the planet, the only home we have.”

Barclays bank have told ITV News Central,

“We are determined to play our part in addressing the urgent and complex challenge of climate change.

"In March 2020 we were one of the first banks to set an ambition to become net zero by 2050, across all of our direct and indirect emissions, and we committed to align all of our financing activities with the goals and timelines of the Paris Agreement.

"We have a three-part strategy to turn that ambition into action: achieving net zero operations, reducing our financed emissions, and financing the transition.

"In practice, this means we have set 2030 targets to reduce our financed emissions in four of the highest emitting sectors in our financing portfolio, with additional 2025 targets for the two highest-emitting sectors – energy and power.

We have also provided over £80bn of green financing and we are investing our own capital – £175m – into innovative, green start-ups.”

West Midlands Police told ITV Central,

"We will always respect people’s right to lawfully protest, but lawful protest does not stretch to committing criminal offences. We cannot standby and allow people to cause criminal damage to a building that is likely to result in disruption and repair bills.

"We will always facilitate lawful protests and try to work with protest organisers so they can take a stand in a peaceful, organised manner. Anyone who oversteps the mark and commits criminal offences can expect to be arrested and potentially put before the courts."