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Eco mob Insulate Britain cost Met police £2m in just four weeks

4 November 2021, 08:00 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 14:56

Police have had to repeatedly respond to Insulate Britain's disruption
Police have had to repeatedly respond to Insulate Britain's disruption. Picture: Alamy
Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Policing Insulate Britain protests on roads around London cost Scotland Yard nearly £2m in the first four weeks of the group's activity, LBC can reveal today.

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Figures obtained by LBC show the cost soared to £1,961,616.44 from 13th September, the first time the group blocked a road on the M25, and the 10th October, four weeks later.

Scotland Yard confirmed that costs for police staff and officers came to more than £1.7 million.

The cost of deploying vehicles was a further £22,000, and the overtime bill came to more than £217,000.

In those four weeks the climate group blocked roads in the Met's jurisdiction nine times, or an average cost of more than £200,000 per protest.

Read more: Police swoop on eco mob and stop planned protest at M25 junction

Read more: Moment eco activists are sprayed with ink as they block roads again

The protests are hugely resource intensive - not only are officers often used to guard suspected targets, it takes large numbers to arrest, un-glue, and carry off the protesters, who want to cause as much nuisance and disruption as possible.

After each arrest the protesters are taken to custody, and released some hours later.

Police have claimed it is "very difficult" to bring charges against the activists, who expected to be in jail weeks ago.

Andy Trotter, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police and former Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, said it's a "shocking use of public money that could easily have been used for something better".

But he said the real cost of policing the protests is that it takes police away from solving crimes and puts them instead sitting by motorway roundabouts waiting for possible demonstrations.

"Thats the thing that really galls me most of all, it's the loss of officers from doing what they should be doing, rather than sitting out waiting for a demonstration that might occur.

"It doesn't surprise me that the detection rate for crime is so low because police officers are not getting on with investigating crime, let alone the huge amount of calls they have to go to."

£1.9 million could pay the salaries of 60 new officers for a year.

It's worth remembering that this is the cost for just one of the five forces that have had to repeatedly respond to Insulate Britain across the M25.

Surrey, Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire either declined, or did not respond to our request for the data, so the real cost of policing Insulate Britain must by now stretch to eight figures.

It comes as court documents last week said just the first three days of Insulate Britain protests had an "economic cost" of almost £900,000.

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC, representing National Highways at the High Court, argued: "The estimated, lower bound, costs of these protests on drivers are substantial, with the lowest still causing £20,124 in loss and the most impactful, so far, costing an estimated £324,107.

"This does not account for any costs associated with missed appointments, disruption to manufacturing or retail, missed transportation slots at airports or ports, or the direct cost to police or National Highways of managing the incidents."

The Agency has now gained a fourth injunction against the group, barring them from protesting on roads across England,