London’s Metropolitan Police have revealed a total of 657 arrests have been made over the last five weeks as its officers worked to keep London moving in the face of Just Stop Oil disruption.
Activists also faced 338 charges as a result of dozens of attempts to bring the capital to a standstill, which the Met believes is the highest number of arrests ever made in response to mass unlawful disruption.
A further 308 activists remain on bail accused of offences including interfering with national infrastructure, ahead of further charging decisions. Some individuals were arrested multiple times and face multiple charges.
The Met says the five-week operation cost at least £3.5m and led to 10,500 officer shifts being taken away from communities, while the total cost of policing Just Stop Oil protests since October 2022 is now £19.9 million.
Commander Kyle Gordon, who oversaw the operation, said: “Community policing is at the forefront of the Met’s priorities and it is tough to see resources being taken away from our boroughs by Just Stop Oil.
“These officers should be responding to local communities and dealing with local issues instead of being taken away to police Just Stop Oil protests. Their time could be far better spent tackling issues in our communities and keeping them safe.
“We understand that in a democratic society there is a strong presumption in favour of the right to protest, but we also have to consider the rights of those who are impacted by JSO’s actions. While there is a right to protest and have your voice heard, there is no right to cause sustained serious disruption.
“It is Londoners who ultimately face the brunt and bill for this action and we understand the frustration of Londoners who are caught up in the disruption, which as we know from previous campaigns impacts on everything from a school run or commute to work through to issues such as attending hospital appointments.
“Our response has successfully minimised the disruption for the majority of Londoners going about their lives, but I urge anyone who was impacted to contact us.
“This is a busy time for Met officers and I also want thank them for their commitment to minimising JSOs disruption by effectively using the new legislation.”
The Met says its aim in response to Just Stop Oil’s activity was to keep London moving and reduce serious disruption. It used new legislation (section seven of the Public Order Act 2023) to arrest activists and remove them from roads.
On one occasion we made 79 arrests within 20 minutes to clear Whitehall.
A dedicated Just Stop Oil portal has been created for anyone who has been impacted by the disruption, with case studies potentially used as evidence in court to support prosecution.
(Picture – Just Stop Oil)