Extinction Rebellion protests cost West Yorkshire Police nearly £200,000

Extinction Rebellion protests cost West Yorkshire Police nearly 200,000
Extinction Rebellion protests cost West Yorkshire Police nearly 200,000
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Environmental protestors who brought Leeds city centre to a standstill during a 'summer uprising' campaign cost West Yorkshire Police nearly £200,000.

The protests by Extinction Rebellion, which took place between July 15 and July 19, set the West Yorkshire force back £197,928, a Freedom of Information Request has revealed.

The five days of action saw the group protest against investment into the fossil fuel industry, which they say is funded by the finance sector and the Government.

The city centre was brought to a standstill when the activists blocked the two entrances to Victoria Bridge, at the Bridgewater Place junction and Sovereign Street junction.

The protestors were calling on the Government to declare a climate emergency and work with other organisations to ‘communicate the urgency’ for change'.

The group said they chose to disrupt Leeds as the biggest and fastest growing financial district outside of London.

As a result of the protests, a number of police officers had to cancel their rest days to police the protests.

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman Brian Booth said the cost to the force has had "a real detrimental effect on us all".

Read more: West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable admits 'I really feel for my staff' as officers forced to cancel rest days to cope with demand

He said: "Every penny that has been used on policing this event is a penny that could have spent much better on local policing issues within West Yorkshire.

"The simple fact of increased expenditure within policing runs the risk of less officers on the beat. This is the last thing we need in West Yorkshire."

Mr Booth was also full of praise for the officers who had to give up their rest days to police the protests.

He said: “I’m really proud of my colleagues that have gone out and performed on top of their everyday demand, having done this on their days off. This being to their personal detriment of working extended shifts and missing vital down time with their families. I’m sure the majority would have preferred to have their days off, but as police officers they do not have a choice and can be ordered to work.

“It was a sterling performance, it demonstrates we are the finest police service in the world, we have facilitated a peaceful protest, balanced the rights of individuals with the right of free assembly and speech.

Read more: 'An officer's lot is harsh' says Yorkshire police boss as interest in joining force plummets

“I think sometimes my colleagues don’t get enough credit for their commitment during events like this, making their own personal sacrifices to deliver for the benefit of others."

No arrests were made during the protests.

A force spokeswoman said: "West Yorkshire Police deployed a proportionate number of officers to manage the protest based on assessment of potential disruption it could cause.

"Resources were continually reviewed throughout the week.

"Police worked together with partner agencies to effectively manage people’s right to lawful protest along with complying with our obligations under the Human Rights Act to balance the rights of the protestors and freedom of others and to minimise the impact on the local communities, businesses and general public.

"Through police engagement with the protest group, West Yorkshire Police were able to minimise the impact and disruption to local communities and businesses."

Extinction Rebellion have been contacted for a statement.