The Met has been planning for some time the policing of these demonstrations with partners British Transport Police and City of London Police to ensure the safety and security of people in London, minimise disruption, tackle any crime or disorder and respond effectively to any incidents.
Some of the groups concerned have engaged to work with the Met’s planning teams to ensure the events are safe and secure. Some others, despite the Met’s efforts, have chosen not to do so. As a result a flexible, dynamic policing plan is in place to address any potential emerging issues.
Commander Jon Savell said: “The Met has a long history of dealing with spontaneous protests in London. We have a very experienced policing team in place as well as robust policing measures; we can respond effectively and quickly to any emerging public order incidents.
“We fully support peaceful protest and will always try to work with organisers so that protests can go ahead safely. However, unlike many groups who carry out protests, Million Mask March and Just Stop Oil do not engage with us in advance of their action. This means we are unable to take the necessary steps to minimise disruption. In addition, the actions of some protesters frequently cross the line into criminality; we will not tolerate criminal behaviour, anti-social behaviour, disorder or criminal damage from anyone.
“Since 2 October, we have arrested 677 Just Stop Oil protesters, 111 of whom have been charged. All but two of those charged have had their first appearance at court.
“We have also used a total of 9,438 officer shifts to police Just Stop Oil protests. These are officers who would otherwise be dealing with issues that matter to local communities, such as knife crime, safeguarding and responding to burglaries. However, despite this increased pressure on our officers, the Met is a large and resilient organisation and remains fully capable of also dealing with its core business in communities.
“When considering how to respond to activists, officers and command teams have to balance the rights of everyone involved, both those wishing to protest as well as local communities and businesses seeking to go about their lawful business unimpeded and without serious disruption.
“Key to our operational response is arriving quickly on scene where there are reports of activists causing disruption and disorder. We know how frustrated members of the public can become with activists, however, I would urge them to have confidence that the police will be on their way and will arrive and deal with situations quickly. Do not try to take matters into your own hands.
“We are determined to bring to justice all of those who cause significant and unreasonable disruption to London, or cause 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.”