XR protests cost police more than twice as much as violent crime taskforce
The demonstrations in April and October cost the Met £37m, compared with the £15m annual budget for its violent crime squad.
Policing the Extinction Rebellion protests has cost Scotland Yard £37 million so far this year – more than twice the annual budget of its Violent Crime Taskforce.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told journalists on Tuesday that the cost of the two-week protest action this month had cost £21 million, a bill set to rise by several million pounds.
This included £3.5 million for overtime, just under £6 million for officers who were drafted in from 38 other forces in England and Wales, and £11.8 million staffing costs.
Protest action by Extinction Rebellion (XR) in April cost the Met £16 million, meaning the bill so far this year is £37 million.
The annual budget for its Violent Crime Taskforce is £15 million.
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.
Dame Cressida said: “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.
“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.”
Met bosses will apply to the Home Office to cover the cost of the protest action.
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.
A total of 1,828 protesters were arrested, of whom 164 have so far been charged.
In April 1,148 activists were held, of whom more than 900 were charged, mostly receiving a conditional discharge.
Police recovered 80 tonnes of equipment, including tents and toilets, that will go to landfill.
Senior officers have been in talks with ministers about potential changes to public order legislation since the action in April.
These could include banning orders to stop activists who repeatedly protest unlawfully, and a new criminal offence of attaching items to the road.