Policing two-week Extinction Rebellion protest cost Scotland Yard over £21million

22 October 2019, 10:55

Extinction Rebellion protests cost at least £21 million
Extinction Rebellion protests cost at least £21 million. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The policing operation for Extinction Rebellion's two weeks of protests in London landed the Metropolitan Police with a bill of at least £21 million.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the total cost is expected to rise by many millions more once all expenses are calculated.

Under £6 million of the sum was spent on assistance from 38 other forces from outside the capital, with a further £3.5 million spent on overtime.

Protest action by Extinction Rebellion (XR) in April cost the Met £16 million, meaning the bill so far this year is £37 million.

In comparison, the Met Police violent crime task force has an annual budget of £15 million, Ms Dick said.

Dame Cressida explained that the demonstrations meant there was "a less good service" when policing the rest of the capital as officers were drafted in to focus on the activists.

"This is placing horrendous strain on London and the Met," she said.

So far this year there have been 115 homicides in London, compared with 112 at the same point in 2018. This includes 77 stabbings and nine shootings.

"We are certainly at the point where I would say to Extinction Rebellion this is placing a horrendous strain on London, and on the Met," she added.

"From the Met's point of view (a) big cost to us and the people who pay for us. Huge drain on our people's resources and energy, causing their families to have to make massive changes in their personal arrangements.

"Frankly, a less good service to the rest of London. Partly because people get tired and partly because we just had to slow down certain types of inquiries, certain types of investigations would just be done more slowly and some things won't ever be done at all."

Nearly 8,000 Metropolitan Police officers were deployed during the October action by Extinction Rebellion, with 21,000 asked to work 12-hour shifts for part of the fortnight.

The Commissioner said officers were taken off local patrol duties and some were moved out of schools while the protests took place.

Detectives were also called in to cover some frontline duties while uniformed colleagues were drafted in to central London.

There were a total of 1,828 arrests across the fortnight of protests with 164 being charged immediately.

A total of 80 tonnes of abandoned or recovered property was also cleared up as a result.

The commissioner was speaking at a media briefing in which she also stated a total of 24 terrorist plots had been thwarted since April 2017.

Of those, 16 were Islamist or internationally inspired and eight were from the extreme far-right.