Just Stop Oil protests have cost Met Police nearly £20 million

The Met Police has urged Just Stop Oil to engage with the force. Credit: PA

The Metropolitan Police have revealed that policing the eco-activist group has cost nearly £20 million.

Since the protest group’s first campaign in October 2022, Just Stop Oil has “refused to engage” with police when planning its protests, the force said.

The Met has called on the activists to "reach out and speak to us" so officers can work with them regarding future demonstrations.

Just Stop Oil is known for its disruptive tactics - particularly stopping traffic by sitting down in the middle of roads or by staging slow marches.

Scotland Yard said time spent on the group equated to about 300 officers per day being taken out of frontline policing across London.

Some £19.9 million has been spent on the group to date, with £3.5 million spent since October this year, the Met said.

Police speak to campaigners from Just Stop Oil during a protest on The Mall, near Buckingham Palace. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Commander Kyle Gordon, who was the senior officer responsible for planning the Met’s policing response to the latest round of Just Stop Oil’s protests, called on the group to engage with the force.

“When it comes to Just Stop Oil, we know when they talk about slow marches it is in everything other than name an attempt to block the road and cause maximum disruption to people right across London," he said.

“Our desire is that Just Stop Oil come forward and speak with us, so we can actually work with them.

“Twenty million pounds from the public purse is a lot of money. I would much, much prefer to be using that within communities.

“These officers should be responding to local communities and dealing with local issues instead of being taken away to police Just Stop Oil protests.

“We absolutely understand and support the fundamental right to protest within a democratic society, but what we’ve got to do is balance that right with the rights of everybody else who is using this city.”

Officers from the Metropolitan Police surround Just Stop Oil protesters Credit: PA

The senior officer said new policing powers granted under Section 7 of the Public Order Act 2023 had allowed the Met to be more proactive in dealing with activists who block roads in the capital.

Police can arrest those who commit an act “which interferes with the use or operation of any key national infrastructure in England and Wales”.

The act is controversial, with opponents describing the legislation as a draconian attack on civil liberties and the right to protest.

Since the powers were first used in October, 657 Just Stop Oil activists have been arrested, the highest number of arrests ever made in response to mass unlawful disruption, Scotland Yard said.

Of those arrested over the last five weeks, 338 have been charged, with a further 308 released on bail, the Met said. Some individuals were arrested multiple times and face multiple charges.

Just Stop Oil activists in Parliament Square demanding the government immediately halt all new oil, gas and coal projects in the UK. Credit: PA

On one occasion, the force used the new powers to make 79 arrests within 20 minutes to clear a protest at Whitehall in central London.

The Met said 10,500 officers’ shifts have been used this autumn, costing at least £3.5 million.

“The new Public Order Act allows us to actually deal with people who are impacting on key national infrastructure,” Mr Gordon said.

“It does allow us to deal much more proactively with people who come on to the roads and cause a blockage.”

Asked if he had any concerns about what tactics the group may employ in future campaigns, the commander said: “I’m not anxious about what Just Stop Oil might do.

“What I do hope they will do is, having seen our resolve to minimise the disruption, reach out and speak to us.”

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