The Metropolitan Police has disclosed that approximately 11,000 officer shifts were reassigned to manage the Just Stop Oil protests during the first month of the group’s slow-marching campaign.
The operation’s cost has exceeded £3.5 million thus far.
The Slow-Marching Tactic
Just Stop Oil launched its planned three-month protest campaign on 24th April, incorporating a new strategy.
They have adopted the slow-marching technique to delay traffic and create public disruptions.
Since the launch, 78 marches have transpired at various locations throughout London.
On 60 occasions, officers determined that ‘serious disruption’ was being caused and imposed conditions requiring the protestors to leave the road.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist elucidated on the challenges the police face, highlighting the balance between the protestors’ rights and the rights of those impacted by the protest.
This constant tug of war requires careful assessment of complex human rights and legal considerations.
Just Stop Oil does not inform the police of planned protests, making preemptively assigning officers impossible.
Twist encouraged the group to communicate their plans in advance, allowing for an immediate presence to assess and prevent any breach of peace.
While some protests saw officers arrive on the scene in less than five minutes, others took longer due to rush-hour traffic conditions.
Twist noted incidents where frustrated members of the public attempted to take matters into their own hands, urging them to call the police instead of intervening personally.
Impact on the Public
Recent articles have illuminated how these protests have disrupted the daily lives of individuals:
- In The Guardian’s piece titled ‘I was late for work and missed a meeting’: How Just Stop Oil protests are disrupting people’s lives, a professional spoke of being late for work and missing a meeting due to protest-related traffic.
- A Telegraph article titled ‘I was stranded on the M25 for hours’: Just Stop Oil protesters cause travel chaos, recounted travellers’ experiences stranded on motorways.
- ‘I was on my way to hospital for an appointment’: Just Stop Oil protesters disrupt NHS services, a piece by The Independent, told a story of a medical appointment missed due to protests.
- In a BBC News report, ‘I was trying to get to work and I couldn’t get through’: Just Stop Oil protesters block roads in London, citizens shared their frustrations with roadblocks hindering their daily commute.
- Sky News reported in ‘I was trying to get home to my family’: Just Stop Oil protesters block train lines, on the impacts of protesters blocking train lines on individuals attempting to get home to their families.
These stories underline the consequences of the Just Stop Oil protests on people’s lives, causing delays, missed appointments, and stranding individuals on roads or away from home.
A Call for Restraint
Twist added, “We absolutely understand why those caught up in traffic delays will be frustrated… but we must recognise that short clips of individual incidents don’t tell the whole story of a much larger policing operation… ensuring that our response times are effective and that our interventions are seeing roads cleared with minimal delays.”
Despite the public frustration and disruption, Twist emphasises that the Police are effectively responding to the situation and that the response times are efficient, with interventions leading to roads being cleared with minimal delay.
Impact on Londoners and Emergency Services
The extensive redirection of police resources towards managing Just Stop Oil protests has inevitably affected Londoners.
The 11,000 police shifts reassigned from other duties mean a significant decrease in staffing for other policing activities in the city, potentially affecting the response times to emergencies.
Emergencies, often life or death, require swift and efficient response times.
With a significant proportion of the force diverted to manage protests, there’s a risk of stretched resources potentially causing delays in attending to emergencies.
Furthermore, the protests’ traffic disruption has likely caused additional delays for emergency services, further complicating their responses to urgent calls.
These developments have indeed burdened Londoners, potentially exacerbating an already stressful situation when emergency assistance is required.
About Just Stop Oil
Just Stop Oil is an activist group with a mission to halt all new UK oil and gas licensing and production, as stated on their website.
The group staunchly believes that fossil fuel extraction and usage contribute significantly to climate change.
They argue that the UK government is not addressing the climate crisis adequately and that its ongoing support for the fossil fuel industry is endangering the planet.
Their protest methods, including road blockades and physically attaching themselves to objects, have been met with criticism.
However, Just Stop Oil maintains that these protests must draw attention to the climate crisis and pressure the government to act.
Despite criticisms, Just Stop Oil has successfully raised awareness about the climate crisis and put pressure on the government.
Whether their protests will achieve their intended aims in the long run, remains to be seen, but their impact on the UK has undeniably been significant.
Among their demands are the following:
- The cessation of all new oil and gas licensing and production in the UK.
- The UK government’s investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Support for workers in the fossil fuel industry to transition to clean jobs.
Just Stop Oil is a non-hierarchical organisation, with activists operating in autonomous blocs that share resources but do not have a formal leadership structure.
The group relies on donations from individuals and organisations for funding.
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