The climate change protest movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), have cost the London Metropolitan police £37 million ($47.8m) so far this year, dwarfing the amount of money pumped into tackling violent crime in the capital.
Britain’s most senior officer, Cressida Dick, who is the commissioner of the Met police has revealed that the recent two-week demonstrations conducted by the environmental group cost the force around £21m ($27.1m), with that figure expected to rise. This amount comes on top of the £16m ($20.7m) the capital’s police spent handling the group’s protests in April.
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In stark contrast, the Met police spent a fraction of this amount (£15m) on its violent crime taskforce, which attempts to reduce the amount of stabbings and other violent crimes in the capital.
An exasperated Dick revealed her frustration at the huge amounts of money being directed into policing the protests, at a cost to some investigations being forced to shutdown as a result of limited resources.
“I would say to Extinction Rebellion this is placing a horrendous strain on London, and on the Met…[It’s a] big cost to us and the people who pay for us.”
The demonstrations that ended last week saw a total of 1,828 protesters arrested – 164 of which have so far been charged by police. In April 1,148 activists were held – 900 of which were charged.
The group’s Autumn protests caused major travel disruption. Public opinion towards the group soured when members staged a protest last week at a London Tube station, climbing on top of train carriages until angry commuters pulled them back down to the ground to allow services to resume.
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Friday saw a last show of defiance by XR, with one of their activists, identified as 43-year-old tree surgeon Ben Atkinson, dressed as Boris Johnson, but with a cape, scale Big Ben clock tower in Westminster, sparking a security alert.
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