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Extinction Rebellion protests: More than 600 arrested during climate demonstrations across London

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 9/10/2019 Katy Clifton
a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

More than 600 activists from Extinction Rebellion have been arrested during the group’s mass demonstration in London.

Hundreds of people are continuing to demonstrate in central London in a bid to force the Government into taking much more urgent action on climate change.

Scotland Yard confirmed that, as of 7.30am on Wednesday, officers had made 28 more arrests as part of the protests, bringing the total to 583 since it started on Monday.

Pictures: Dramatic photos of protests through the years

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor later said more than 600 people have been arrested - more than half the number detained during two-week protests in April.

a group of people riding on the back of a motorcycle: Police arrest a protester who had been glued to others in a circle (PA) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Police arrest a protester who had been glued to others in a circle (PA)

It comes as around 80 tonnes of equipment used by Extinction Rebellion protesters to set up camps in central London was seized by police on the third day of the demonstrations.

Officers have been clearing any sites outside the pedestrian area of Trafalgar Square after restrictions were put in place to stop the ongoing disruption in the capital.

Equipment seized includes tents, portable toilets and generators, police said.

Two weeks of protest action has seen XR occupy 12 sites in and around Westminster.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Taylor said six of the sites had already been cleared.

a crowd of people: Tents at the Extinction Rebellion camp on Marsham Street (PA) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Tents at the Extinction Rebellion camp on Marsham Street (PA)

Frontline officers across London have been put on a 12-hour shift pattern to allow colleagues to be moved to cover the protests

Another 500 officers have been brought in from forces across England and Wales as part of the established mutual aid system for major events.

Mr Taylor said: "We've got a very robust policing response to the Extinction Rebellion protests.

"The Met is a very large organisation. We will cope. But there is no doubt it is having an impact on our policing operation more widely.

"We've brought in a significant number of officers from communities across London to police central London, and they're officers who should be working in their local neighbourhoods."

a group of people sitting on a bench: Extinction Rebellion protesters hold a 'feed-in' protest (Jeremy Selwyn) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Extinction Rebellion protesters hold a 'feed-in' protest (Jeremy Selwyn)

It can take hours to move activists who have trapped themselves with bike locks or glue, and a minimum of four officers is needed to move demonstrators who refuse to stand up when arrested.

Mr Taylor said: "This is a really complex policing operation and it takes an awful lot of time to move even a small number of people, let alone the numbers that we are experiencing in London.

"It takes seconds to glue yourself on to something; it can take an hour or more to unglue that person.

Where people are locked around their necks with bicycle D-locks, it can take hours to remove those. All of this contributes to the length of time it takes us to clear streets.

"We've recovered eight 10-tonne lorries' worth of equipment from the protest groups. That is an enormous amount of property that we've seized."

The protesters are planning to target City Airport on Thursday, but Mr Taylor said: "We have got plans in place should they go and target the airport so that we can intervene and we can deal proactively with anybody with that intention."

The State Opening of Parliament is also due to take place on Monday.

Asked if the force has any specific plans in place to avoid disruption, Mr Taylor said: "It's a security operation as well as a public order operation and we have a number of plans in place to ensure that will take place."

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