How effective are Just Stop Oil's London protests?

  • ITV London spent the morning with protesters

Just Stop Oil protesters were out in force in Trafalgar Square this morning (17 November), and the change in tone from the Metropolitan Police was evident in the number of arrests.

In the last three weeks, more demonstrators have been charged for causing disruption across London, than the whole of last year.

ITV News can reveal the significant change in how the police and justice system is dealing with Just Stop Oil protesters ever since officers were given greater powers to make quicker arrests.

In the whole of 2022, 236 activists were charged under the public order act, a lower number than in just 3 weeks of this year, at 296. 

In fact, Just Stop Oil say that 443 JSO supporters have been arrested since October 30.

The maximum penalty for obstructing roads in England and Wales is 51 weeks in prison, but fines can also be imposed.

Speaking to ITV News London before the march, a protester said he was "absolutely certain" he would get arrested.

"I've made peace with it. I know that a lot of my fellow friends have gone through far worse," he said.

"This isn't the X-Factor. You don't need to be popular to make change. We're doing what we know is effective because we have seen it throughout history."

More than 443 JSO supporters have been arrested since October 30. Credit: ITV News London

How effective are Just Stop Oil's protests?

If government policies are to be used as a reference point, JSO's actions are proving to be ineffective. Already we've seen a rollback of some of the previously promised climate policies:

  • The lifing of the fracking ban

  • A delay from 2030 to 2035 for banning combustion engines

  • And weakened plans to phase out the installation of gas boilers.

Policy aside it seems public support for just stop oil is also wanning.

A YouGov poll from this year found that 64% of UK adults have an unfavourable opinion of Just Stop Oil Activists.

When asked in the same poll whether they sympathise with motorists or climate activists the majority (52%) sided with motorists.

The Government's amended Public Order Act came into force on 2 May 2023, which enhances Police powers during protests, and increases the penalties for offenders to allow the police to arrest protesters under that law.

The Government’s new Public Order Act gives police protest-specific stop and search powers. Credit: ITV News London

Protesters can be given up to 6 months in prison for locking themselves to objects, tunnelling, or interfereing with construction projects.

It also extendns stop and search powers for police to search for and seize objects which might be used to enable protest related offences.

Just Stop Oil are a climate change activism group, and they are campaigning to stop the UK approving new fossil fuel projects.

Naturally those being arrested and charged for Public Order offences, deteste the new changes but the YouGov poll found that 66% of Britons agree that it should be a criminal offence to "obstruct major transport works".

On today's march it was evident that the group don't care much for public opinions, their only concern is ending the use of fossil fuels.