Just Stop Oil protesters planning disruption in run-up to Christmas, police warn

Further disruption is threatened by Just Stop Oil protesters in the run-up to Christmas, Scotland Yard has warned.

The Metropolitan Police has moved to reassure the public that the force is "fully prepared" to deal with the climate activists and urged people not to take matters into their own hands, in the face of growing frustration and anger at their tactics.

Just Stop Oil demonstrators have been engaged in a campaign of direct action in a bid to stop future gas and oil projects from going ahead, including blocking roads, defacing famous artworks and spraying orange paint on buildings.

The government, in response, has launched fresh moves to crack down on disruptive protests, including outlawing "locking on", but is facing strong opposition at Westminster.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is to summon police chiefs to Downing Street for talks about tackling the demonstrations as officers anticipate a fortnight of disruption.

And in reaction to reports that prime minister Rishi Sunak will announce a crackdown on such protests, Just Stop Oil said: "The government can end the disruption today by calling a halt to new oil and gas licences and consents."

Met Police commander Karen Findlay said: "Just Stop Oil has already caused significant disruption to London's general public and people travelling on the M25.

"We understand they are now set to cause further disruption in London in the run-up to Christmas, from 28 November to 14 December. However, we are again fully prepared.

"We have a very experienced team with robust policing measures in place to respond quickly and effectively to any incidents of serious disruption to London.

"We also have specialist officers available to deal with a range of tactics, including sophisticated lock-on devices.

"We will always try to work with organisers so that protests can go ahead safely.

"However, Just Stop Oil do not engage with police in advance to share where they may protest or how many may be involved."

Ms Findlay added: "As their actions are spontaneous and could take place anywhere across the capital, we are having to use more officers to respond, regardless of whether any action takes place or not."

This had meant diverting police from dealing with pressing frontline duties including tackling knife crime and responding to burglaries, she said.

Ms Findlay added: "I completely understand the frustration and anger felt by the public, who are seriously disrupted by a relatively small number of protesters and their deliberate tactics.

"Activists are affecting people's businesses, their lives, whether they are on their way to a doctor, a long-awaited hospital appointment, on their way to work, to interviews, or to collect children."

Pledging a "proportionate policing response", she said: "We will arrive quickly, deal with the situation efficiently, remove and arrest activists as appropriate and return things to normal as soon as possible.

"Please do not take matters into your own hands."

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The force arrested 755 Just Stop Oil activists, and charged 182, in October and November.

"We are determined to bring to justice all those activists who cause disruption or damage to London," Ms Findlay added.

"We're working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to ensure this happens."