Taking headlines by storm across both the news and sporting worlds, Just Stop Oil is a name we have become all too familiar with. Famed for their strong environmentalist views, protestors have taken to all kinds of means to get their voices heard.
From slow marches across London to glueing themselves to the M25, from throwing soup at van Gogh’s Sunflowers to disrupting the likes of Wimbledon and The Ashes, it’s safe to say that they have well and truly made their mark.
More than 270 arrests were made during the demonstrations, many of which were amid the disruption of several high-profile events
Just Stop Oil, also referred to as JSO, is said to have cost the Met Police more than £7.7 million since the start of their 13-week-long campaign in April earlier this year. Within that timeframe, the Met has confirmed that a total of 515 protests were carried out, which comes with a cost of policing equivalent to 23,500 officer shifts. More than 270 arrests were made during the demonstrations, many of which were amid the disruption of several high-profile events.
Naturally, many of their actions have sparked controversy. Most people will agree that more needs to be done to address the climate crisis, but for many, throwing jigsaw pieces and orange confetti around a tennis court seems to be missing the mark.
The protests have become a common theme of sporting events in recent months, perhaps most notably on Day 1 of the second Ashes Test at Lord’s. Jumping out of the stands onto the pitch, two protestors were welcomed with incessant boos from a sold-out crowd. It even saw wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow carry one of the protestors off the pitch, to the delight of many England and Australia fans.
Whether it’s The Ashes, Snooker, Football and even Wimbledon in recent weeks, Just Stop Oil always seems to be met with a similar sounding sigh. Many people have taken to social media to express their disapproval of the group, and Met Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist went as far to say that it has gone beyond protest and should be considered a “crime”. Speaking to Nick Ferrari amidst the Met’s recent figures, Mr Twist said that the right to protest is “heavily protected”, however he also went on to say, “But this isn’t protest, this is crime, and there is a difference”.
The cost to the Met is on top of the £7.5 million spent by the force policing Just Stop Oil protests in the final quarter of 2022. This means that in the last 12 months alone, the Met Police has had to fork out in excess of £15 million to police JSO protest action.
A spokesperson for the group recently came out to say: “Matt Twist has laid out the consequences of the Policing Act for all to see: legitimate protest is now classed as crime.” They added that JSO “will not die quietly” and promised to continue to resist until the government “agrees to end new oil and gas”.
Many Londoners are becoming more and more agitated over the protests. Last month, a video went viral of a Just Stop Oil protestor being assaulted by a motorist in South Kensington. The Met has urged people not to take matters into their own hands, and it is believed that the incident occurred after the group’s slow march caused the motorist to crash, with a pregnant woman sitting beside him in the car.
It’s undeniable that the protests are causing great a deal of disruption, to the agitation of several everyday people
It’s undeniable that the protests are causing great a deal of disruption, to the agitation of several everyday people. It seems more and more people are becoming fed up with their actions, and given what Just Stop Oil is costing the Met on a yearly basis, it’s likely that we’ll see more incidents like this in the future.
As with all forms of protest, it only takes someone to get hurt to cause a serious rethink over the group’s motives. However, given what the latest figures have shown, it wouldn’t be absurd to say that everyday taxpayer is being hurt the most by Just Stop Oil’s actions. You’ve got to ask where we should draw the line between protest and crime, but for the average taxpayer, it’d be natural to feel a little let down by the opportunity cost that comes with policing Just Stop Oil’s protests.