Extinction Rebellion: London protests 'cost Met extra £7.5m'

police officers Image copyright AFP
Image caption About 200 extra officers from forces including Essex, Kent, Hampshire and Sussex policed the protests

A series of climate change protests in London last month cost the Met Police an extra £7.5m, it has been claimed.

Nearly 1,200 people were arrested during 11 days of protests by the Extinction Rebellion group.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said overtime payments and the cost of bringing officers in from other forces contributed to a rise in the expense.

She also called on ministers to consider changes to "quite ancient" public order laws.

Protesters brought parts of London to a standstill in April, with roadblocks at Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch.

Ms Dick told the London Assembly's police and crime committee that 30 police officers were still working full time to bring cases to the CPS and through the courts.

The extra cost of policing the protests - including overtime, kit, a cherry picker and support from other forces - was at least £7.5m.

A special grant application will be made to the Home Office to recoup the funds from the government.

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Media captionProtesters blocked the London Stock Exchange and climbed on top of a Docklands Light Railway train

Speaking at City Hall, Ms Dick said powers under the Public Order Act are "limited" and "very slow and cumbersome" to enact.

She said: "These were so-called peaceful, but in the case of Extinction Rebellion, certainly in the vast majority of cases, non-violent.

"They were unlawful, but the offences that they may have been charged with are summary only and not serious and therefore the deterrent is not strong.

"So that's another thing that needs to be looked at, as to whether there should be a stronger deterrent."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dame Emma Thompson joined the protests in Oxford Circus

She said it will be a "matter for Parliament and the judiciary", adding that it is a "very difficult balancing act".

"I don't think this sort of disruption should be not serious," she added.

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