Extinction Rebellion (2)

Meeting: 
MQT on 2019-05-16
Session date: 
May 16, 2019
Reference: 
2019/8900
Question By: 
Peter Whittle
Organisation: 
Brexit Alliance Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

In the week before Easter, hundreds of protestors from Extinction Rebellion disrupted the daily lives of many thousands of Londoners. I note that the full force of the law was not applied, with these self-righteous attention seekers returning to continue their protests. Film of Police officers dancing and skateboarding in the streets with protestors will do nothing to improve the image of the Metropolitan Police with the general public, given that they are supposed to be impartial upholders of the law, rather than what many would see as virtue signallers in uniform. Why was the initial police response to these protests and the inconvenience they caused to Londoners so feeble?

Answer

Extinction Rebellion (2)

Extinction Rebellion (2)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

On the basis that “The Extinction Rebellion Protest” was a non-violent and peaceful protest, it was dealt with proportionately in line with the legislative framework available to the police.

Highway obstruction is an offence. However, when policing protest activity, we have an obligation to balance our policing response with those fundamental rights that exist under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (Freedom of Expression / Freedom of Assembly and Association). There is an expectation that individuals should be permitted to exercise these rights by way of peaceful protest. Police can intervene if there is a likelihood of serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community, resulting from protest activity.

During the protest and once the threshold for serious disruption was met, Section 14 Public Order Act 1986 conditions were imposed at each location occupied by protestors. This legislation directed protestors to an alternative location where they were permitted to continue their static protest. Unfortunately, the imposition of conditions were unsuccessful as a deterrent because protestors actively sought arrest as a means of furthering their cause. More than 1100 people were arrested during this protest which further demonstrates the extent to which this event was policed appropriately. 

The conduct of the officers described above was inappropriate and has since been dealt with by local managers.