Policing of ‘Insulate Britain’ Protests Costs 4.3 Million Pounds

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
December 29, 2021 Updated: December 29, 2021

Road-blocking protests carried out by the climate campaign group Insulate Britain have cost UK taxpayers at least 4.3 million pounds ($5.8 million), an investigation has found.

The information was collated by the PA news agency, which filed Freedom of Information requests to police forces who handled the protests.

Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, demands that the government insulate all British homes to cut emissions. The group, which began a wave of protests in September, has blocked the M25 motorway, other roads in London including around Parliament, roads in Birmingham and Manchester, and around the Port of Dover in Kent.

The Metropolitan Police in London said it spent 4 million pounds ($5.4 million) dealing with the group’s protests between Sept. 13 and Nov. 20.

Some 6,651 of the force’s officers and staff were involved, at a cost of 3.1 million pounds ($4.2 million). A further 600,000 pounds ($806,000) was spent on deploying vehicles, while the overtime cost was 300,000 pounds ($400,000).

Four other forces provided figures totalling more than 300,000 pounds ($400,000) but only included overtime bills, meaning the actual cost of policing protests in their areas was considerably higher.

They were Hertfordshire Constabulary (185,000 pounds, or $248,000), Surrey Police (110,000 pounds, or $148,000), City of London Police (44,000 pounds, or $59,000), and Greater Manchester Police (10,000 pounds, or $13,000).

Commenting on the report, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter: “Selfish Insulate Britain protests not only wreaked havoc on our roads & diverted emergency services away from vital work, a staggering amount of public money had to be spent to keep road-users safe.”

The government-owned National Highways applied to the High Court for injunctions to ban protests on motorways and other main roads in England. It cost just under 220,000 pounds ($296,000) to obtain the first three injunctions.

“Thanks to the injunctions we’ve brought, 11 protesters have now been jailed & we’ll continue to act against this lawless behaviour while getting on with tackling climate change,” Shapps said.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, described the cost of policing the protests as “staggering.”

“Unfortunately, we have to police what’s put in front of us,” he said. “It’s disgusting that we’re having to spend that sort of money on these protests.”

He described responding to the protests on 70 mph motorways as “some of the most dangerous things my colleagues have had to do.”

Insulate Britain spokeswoman Tracey Mallaghan said she believes the group’s actions have made home insulation “something people are talking about.”

Asked why they blocked roads rather than conducting legal protests, she replied, “It seems the only way we can get air time is by annoying enough ordinary people.”

PA contributed to this report.