Extinction Rebellion protesters cost taxpayers £15 MILLION in policing costs since April alone with disruptive stunts including blocking newspaper printers
- Home Office gave £15million to the Met Police to deal with Extinction Rebellion
- Some 600 demonstrators arrested across five days after parliament protests
- 51 protesters charged after a blockade at the printing press in Hertfordshire
- Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was committed to helping police with XR
Extinction Rebellion protests have cost taxpayers £15 million in policing costs since April alone with disruptive stunts including blocking newspaper printers.
The Home Office gave the Metropolitan Police millions of pounds of taxpayer money to fund the mounting costs of policing the extreme environmentalist group.
Last month, 600 XR protestors were arrested across five days during demonstrations in Parliament and Trafalgar Squares in central London.
When 100 XR members stormed and blocked a newspaper production warehouse in Broxbourne, Herts, last month, 51 were charged and 49 were bailed.
The stunt cost businesses, newsagents, the printers and newspapers millions.
In a speech delivered to the Police Superintendents Association after the protest, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was committed to helping police deal with ‘so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals.’
A boat is placed in the centre of the traffic junction as Environmental campaigners block Oxford Circus during a coordinated protest by the Extinction Rebellion group on April 15, 2019
She said: ‘Attempting to thwart the media’s right to publish without fear nor favour.
‘And a shameful attack on our way of life, our economy and the livelihoods of the hard-working majority. I refuse point-blank to allow that kind of anarchy on our streets.’
She blasted those who took part in the demonstration for being a ‘selfish minority’.
‘The very criminals who disrupt our free society must be stopped,’ she added. ‘Together we must all stand firm against the guerrilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion.
‘That means adapting to the threat they pose and ensuring justice is served.
‘Now in policing, you have a whole range of powers at your disposal, and of course they should be used.’
A protester is removed by police at the entrance to Downing Street, London, during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate change protest on Friday October 18, 2019
Police officers remove an Extinction Rebellion protester from Victoria Street, London, on Thursday September 3
Labour leader Keir Starmer also hit out at XR’s ‘counterproductive’ protests to stop the printing press.
He warned the environmental group’s newspaper blockade had cost it public sympathy.
Priti Patel (pictured) said she was committed to helping police deal with XR
The stunt happened on September 4, and left some newsagents’ shelves empty the following morning. It sparked outrage across parties.
During a listener phone-in with LBC radio, Sir Keir admitted he had not admonished a few of his own backbench MPs who spoke out in support of the action.
They included former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who told Sky News XR was using ‘legal tactics’ in the same vein as Suffragette protests.
Fellow MP Dawn Butler called the blockade ‘excellent work’ in a tweet that was later deleted.
Asked about their comments, Sir Keir said: ‘I haven’t directly spoken to either of them about it – I disagree with them.
‘Obviously people will have different opinions but my strong opinion is this was counterproductive, it was wrong and we shouldn’t miss the bigger picture here which is that climate change is a very important issue and we do need to shine a light on that but this is the wrong way to do it.’
An XR stunt happened at printing works in Hertfordshire on September 4, and left some newsagents’ shelves empty the following morning
In an LBC phone-in, Labour leader Keir Starmer warned that the environmental group’s blockade had cost it public sympathy
He added that XR’s tactics were likely to have put ‘people off’ supporting their efforts to raise awareness about climate change and the impact of increasing temperatures.
‘The tactics and the action of Extinction Rebellion, particularly blockading newspapers, was just wrong in my view and counterproductive,’ the former director of public prosecutions said.
WHAT IS EXTINCTION REBELLION AND WHAT DO THEY WANT?
‘Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and the risk of social collapse,’ according to its website’s ‘about’ page.
The environmentalist protest group held its first demonstration in Parliament Square on October 31, 2018.
The worldwide group want to change the structure of power to take authority away from central governments.
Its website reads: ‘We understand that we must self-organise to meet our own needs, which in the context of Extinction Rebellion means that we are working to equalise power by disrupting the usual pillars of power that govern our lives.’
Since 2018 members of the group have gathered at London Fashion Week, the House of Commons and various other locations around central London.
On the morning of Wednesday, April 17, 2019, two activists climbed onto the roof of a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station whilst another glued himself to the side, spreading disruption to railway services.
The following day the three activists were charged with obstructing trains. After pleading not guilty they were sent to jail for four weeks, with no bail, whilst awaiting their next hearing.
On February 17 2020, Extinction Rebellion members of the University of Cambridge dug up a patch of lawn outside Trinity College, as a protest against its investment in oil and gas companies. The mud dug up was later taken to a local branch of Halifax.
‘A free press is a cornerstone of our democracy and people should be able to read the newspaper that they want to read.
‘I actually think it was counterproductive, I think it put more people off than brought people on.
‘The test of this is actually is it persuading people that this cause is the right cause and make them more likely to take action themselves in the way they go about their everyday lives and I actually think this action was counterproductive.
‘I suspect there are more people now who are less sympathetic than there were before.’
Sir Keir said it was ‘rubbish’ that he had been slow to condemn the actions of the protest movement.
Labour’s media spokeswoman Jo Stevens put out the party’s official statement condemning the actions following the blockade but Tory MPs were critical that the comments were not issued under Sir Keir’s name.
‘The Labour Party put out a line, that’s what we do, but I in fact put out a line myself anyway,’ he told LBC.
Since Priti Patel became Home Secretary last year, 4,300 police officers have been recruited nationally.
The Home Office aims to recruit 20,000 more by 2023.
Extinction Rebellion describes itself as ‘a politically non-partisan international movement that uses non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.’
A note on its website revealed the group try to communicate with police ‘except for the case where a small group is trying to do a specific action that needs the element of surprise’.
They said: ‘We have made some decisions about security and our interactions with the police.
‘We have made a strategic decision to communicate with the police about what we are doing when we believe that is more likely to enable things to go well (which we can’t always be sure of).
‘Except for the case where a small group is trying to do a specific action that needs the element of surprise, we generally don’t try to be secure in our communications about plans.
‘We expect that we have been infiltrated by those without our best interests at heart and suggest people bear this in mind.’