The comments from the Met Police come ahead of two weeks of action due to commence by XR from Monday
Policing Extinction Rebellion protests has cost the taxpayer more than £50 million since 2019, and this figure is expected to rise by millions as fresh action is planned in the coming weeks.
Commander Rachel Williams told a press briefing the figure covers the Metropolitan Police’s response to three prolonged demonstrations in which activists camped in the streets in April and October 2019 and September 2020.
The environmental group is due to stage a similar occupation in central London for two weeks from August 23, with its main aim this year being to demand the Government halts all new investment in fossil fuels.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the Met made an “unprecedented” 3,762 arrests during the previous three demonstrations, bringing 1,938 prosecutions of which 73% resulted in convictions.
Protesters have been successfully campaigning to overturn these convictions, and the Crown Prosecution Service has dropped many of their cases.
Extinction Rebellion has said “hundreds if not thousands” of the prosecutions could be “unsafe”.
Commissioner Twist recognised this but said it does not “preclude officers from taking action to prevent disruption on London’s road network where that disruption is wilful and unreasonable”.
He told the briefing on Friday: “The disruption we witnessed in 2019 and 2020 is unacceptable, and we share London’s outrage on the impact that this activism had on their businesses and their communities.”
He added that police response will be “proportionate” to the disruption, adding that “every police officer committed to a large demonstration in central London is a police officer abstracted away from their local community”.