Just Stop Oil being less assertive, says Met chief

time:2023-06-03 01:54:29source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center 1

Just Stop Oil protesters are being "much less assertive" because their suspected leaders are in custody, Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has said.

The group resumed protests on Monday with a series of slow marches on roads.

Speaking at the London Assembly, Sir Mark said any "beyond lawful" protest would be "dealt with robustly".

But he admitted some trials involving those arrested at demonstrations may not take place until 2024 due to a backlog in the courts.

In recent months, Just Stop Oil has forced authorities to close sections of the M25 by repeatedly blocking parts of the motorway, while activists have also targeted famous paintings hanging in public galleries.

Sir Mark told Assembly members: "Frankly, what I've seen is that Just Stop Oil have got much less assertive in their recent protests - frankly, as a consequence of a large number of their leaders being remanded in custody as a result of our operations."

He added that he was "absolutely determined that anything that goes beyond lawful reasonable protest by creating serious disruption to London, by creating damage to property, will be dealt with robustly".

The commissioner also said that while "the best part of 60 offenders" had been put before the courts for the statutory offence of public nuisance, most of the trials for Just Stop Oil members were scheduled for 2024 due to delays in the criminal justice system.

Youth crime in the capital was also discussed at the meeting with London's mayor Sadiq Khan calling for a more holistic approach as "we can't just leave it to the police to reduce violent crime".

Mr Khan stressed the need to look at the causes of youth crime, which he cited as "deprivation and alienation", and pointed out that several young offenders had been in care or excluded from school.

He asked Assembly members "how can we keep kids busy" given that most stabbings take place between 16:00 and 18:00, and said there needed to be a greater focus on making the police "culturally competent".

Sir Mark Rowley added that there were "other ways into the problem" than stop-and-search and that the Met was "stepping up tactics" in targeting county lines operations.

"Some children have been groomed," the commissioner said, explaining that they go from "being damaged to being dangerous".

Sir Mark's comments about Just Stop Oil come as the home secretary and policing minister are due to meet with police chiefs next week to discuss how to tackle "guerrilla tactics" used by protest groups.

Downing Street has denied the aim of the meeting is to tell the police they are expected to do more to stop disruptive demonstrations.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: "Equally, we want to be clear and feed back the concerns of the public because that is coming across loud and clear."

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