Hundreds of thousands of police hours spent on Just Stop Oil should've been spent investigating crime, says top Met Cop

29 November 2022, 07:00 | Updated: 29 November 2022, 07:04

Police were filmed walking alongside Just Stop Oil protesters on Monday morning
Police were filmed walking alongside Just Stop Oil protesters on Monday morning. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Hundreds of thousands of hours of police time have been spent tackling Just Stop Oil protesters, LBC has learned, as the climate group returns to streets in the run-up to Christmas.

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The Met's Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that a huge amount of time - 12,000 shifts' worth or many thousands of working hours - had been dedicated to clearing roads and patrolling motorways in an attempt to limit Just Stop Oil's disruption.

Speaking from the Met's Operations Headquarters in Lambeth, he said officers' time would be better spent investigating crime.

He told LBC: "Every one of those shifts is a shift that could have been better spent supporting local communities, investigating crimes and responding to incidents."

"But we have to have a well resourced plan in place to deal with Just Stop Oil, because the public rightly expect us to deal with these things quickly.

"We can't allow criminal offences, public nuisance or highway disruption, which is causing serious disruption and misery to the public of London and many many thousands of people."

Read more: Eco-mob head to the pub: Police watch on as activists take a break from causing travel chaos to go for a pint

Read more: Just Stop Oil protester damaged Vincent Van Gogh painting has compared himself to Martin Luther King in court

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist says 12,000 police shifts spent on Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil took a break from blocking the M25 by climbing onto gantries, but returned to the streets of Central London yesterday.

The group want to force the Government to stop funding new oil and gas projects.

Their latest protest comes after police pledged they were "fully prepared" to deal with the group's protest plans in the run up to Christmas.

Protesters walked slowly along Shepherd's Bush Green, west London at around 8am on Monday and also blocked traffic in Aldwych, central London.

The action came after police chiefs and politicians talked tough over the weekend, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman apparently set to summon senior officers to discuss how to deal with disruption in the coming weeks.

The Metropolitan Police warned on Sunday that campaigners are planning disruptive activity in London from November 28 to December 14, but said that it has teams in place to respond "quickly and effectively".

Just Stop Oil protesters bring the Strand to a halt

In response, JSO said in a statement on Monday: "We will not be intimidated by changes to the law or government posturing on tougher policing tactics.

"Just Stop Oil supporters understand that this is irrelevant when set against mass starvation, slaughter and the loss of our rights, freedoms and communities.

"The Government can end this disruption tomorrow if they agree to halt new oil and gas licences and consents."

The force arrested 755 Just Stop Oil activists, and charged 182, in October and November.

Do these new tactics mean police can't arrest Just Stop Oil?

Speaking on Sunday, Commander Karen Findlay from the Metropolitan Police said Just Stop Oil will not enagage with the force when planning protests.

She said: "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.

"Activists 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.

"Therefore, I again urge Just Stop Oil organisers to engage with us to minimise disruption to Londoners."

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