Just Stop Oil protest tactics have been blasted by the Metropolitan Police after they cost the force more than £7.7million over the last 13 weeks.
A senior Scotland Yard officer said protests carried out by the eco-warriors has seen 150 officers responding every day.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the equivalent of around 23,500 officer shifts had been used to respond to the group’s actions, all of which could have been investigating and solving crimes instead.
Twist said that while the Met would always uphold the right to protest, he added: “But this isn’t protest, this is crime. And there’s a difference.”
A senior Scotland Yard officer said protests carried out by the eco-warriors has seen 150 officers responding every day
“So the right to protest is very strongly protected,” he told LBC.
“But when you get into deliberately causing serious disruption to the public of London, stopping people from going about their daily business, disrupting people from going to work or hospital or taking their children to school then that tips over into crime.”
The police chief said that one challenge posed by Just Stop Oil includes the unpredictability of the "slow marches" on busy London roads.
“One of the challenges we have with Just Stop Oil is they don’t tell us where they’re going to protest, they don’t tell us when they’re going to take action,” he said.
“They don’t engage, which means we have to put more officers on it than we otherwise would do.”
Activists have been staging protests every day since April 24, with tactics including marching slowly on major roads.
Just Stop Oil argues its action is necessary because of the overwhelming importance of tackling the climate crisis.
Over the last 13 weeks of disruption, a total of 271 activists have been arrested by police.
Just Stop Oil argues its action is necessary because of the overwhelming importance of tackling the climate crisis
The Met has urged Londoners not to take matters into their own hands when dealing with protesters.
A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: “There you have it, the result of the Policing Act in black and white: legitimate protest is now classed as crime.
“This oil funded regime has us locked on for annihilation and will lock up anyone who dissents. But we will not die quietly. We will continue to resist until the government agrees to end new oil and gas.”