Statement regarding ongoing protests across London
In recent months, public order events, demonstrations and spontaneous protests have presented the Met with unique challenges. However, the Met has a long history of dealing with such situations and is continuing to deal with the recent protracted targeted efforts of Just Stop Oil.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, Met Operations, said: "The Met is absolutely committed to providing a quick and effective response to activists who have been significantly and deliberately disrupting people’s daily lives. Since 1 October, we have now arrested 651 people.
“Actions by Just Stop Oil have caused a significant amount of disruption and frustration among the public in London. We will always provide a proportionate policing response to protest and try to work with organisers so that protests can go ahead safely. However, the public rightly expects us to respond quickly and effectively where protest crosses the line into criminality.
“Just Stop Oil do not engage with police in advance of their demonstrations, which means more resources are needed across the Met to respond, irrespective of whether significant action takes place or not. This impacts on policing resources from local communities. Since 1 October, more than 7,900 officer shifts have been needed to respond to this activity to try to keep London moving and minimise serious impact on communities.
“If officers were not helping the central operation to deal with Just Stop Oil they could be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries. Additionally, these cases will in time place a significant burden on the wider criminal justice system. We are determined to bring those who have caused chaos and disruption to justice, and additional officers will continue to be needed into the medium term to process these cases successfully to court.
“The Met is a large and resilient organisation and despite the abstraction of officers to support this operation, we are still able to deal with our core business in communities, however this continuing action increases pressure on our systems and our officers.
“I completely understand the frustration and anger felt by the public who are seriously disrupted by a relatively small number of protesters and their deliberate tactics. They are affecting people’s businesses, their lives, whether they are on their way to a doctor, a long awaited hospital appointment, on their way to work, to interviews, or to collect children; I know communities and the public of London have had enough of a very small number of people disrupting them.
“When notified of any activists committing offences, or causing disruption by blocking roads, our priority is to get there quickly. I would urge the public not to directly intervene, but to call us, and we will deal. On arrival we need to work within the clear legal framework and secure evidence for the offence of highway obstruction, showing clearly that there is an obstruction, that it is deliberate, that it is unlawful, and finally within the context of protest, that it is unreasonable in all of the circumstances. Without this evidence, any prosecution may fail and the offenders will not be held to account for their actions. Once we have this evidence, arrests are made and our specialist teams work rapidly to unstick the protesters or remove their complex lock on devices.
“We are determined to bring to justice all of those who have caused significant and unreasonable disruption to London, or caused damage to buildings, property or valuables. It's what the public expects, and we'll work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and Courts to make sure this happens.”