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Sajid Javid urges police to use 'full force of the law' against climate change protesters

Steven Swinford

Sajid Javid has told police that they must take a “firm line” with climate change protesters and warned that “no one should be allowed to break the law without consequence”.

The Home Secretary said that he “totally condemns” Extinction Rebellion protesters who are breaking the law by disrupting central London.

It came as a senior police chief has criticised officers who were filmed dancing with climate change protesters at Oxford Circus, as she described their behaviour as "unacceptable".

Metropolitan Police commander Jane Connors said officers deployed to the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations would be reminded of their "responsibilities and expectations" in the wake of the incident.

Speaking after meeting Cressida Dick, the head of the Metopolitan Police, Mr Javid said: “Everyone has the right to protest peacefully – it’s a cherished, long-standing British tradition and a fundamental cornerstone of the democracy we live in.

Footage appeared to show police officers dancing among climate change activists Credit: Twitter/@WildlifeCafe

“But people do not have the right to break the law and significantly disrupt the lives of others.

“Let me be clear - I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law. They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I expect the police to take a firm stance and use the full force of the law. They have my full backing in doing so.

"I have spoken to the Met Commissioner today to offer her whatever support she may need and pass on my appreciation to the thousands of officers patrolling the streets of the capital over the Bank Holiday.

“We are a proud democracy – and no one should be allowed to break the law without consequence.”

Scotland Yard said it was working to identify the officers Credit: Twitter/@WildlifeCafe

Mr Javid's intervention comes as footage shared on social media appeared to show a small handful of Metropolitan Police officers in high-visibility jackets dancing to music and responding to chants of "we love you" from supporters of the Extinction Rebellion action at Oxford Circus.

One officer could be seen applauding as the crowd began cheering while another raised his hand aloft in acknowledgement of their support.

Subsequent statements on Twitter by the user who posted the video backed the officers, who were said to be in solidarity with the protesters.

Scotland Yard said enquiries were being made to identify those involved.

Ms Connors said: "I'm disappointed by the video and the unacceptable behaviour of the officers in it.

"We expect our officers to engage with protesters but clearly their actions fall short of the tone of the policing operation at a time when people are frustrated at the actions of the protesters.

"We will be reminding officers of their responsibilities and expectations in policing this operation - however the majority of officers have been working long hours and I am grateful to them for their continued commitment."

The video came during a third day of protests in the capital, which saw scores of people arrested as roads and bridges were blocked.

Scotland Yard today said 428 arrests had been carried out since Monday, as activists plan a fourth straight day of demonstrations on London streets.

Organisers behind the protest warned "thousands more rebels" expected to join in the coming days unless demands set out by Extinction Rebellion "are not met".

Speaking from Waterloo Bridge, Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, said: "More people are joining us all the time. We're having a fantastic time here.

"It's how life is meant to be lived with people coming together and actually exerting their political power."

Protesters exercise on Waterloo Bridge as part of the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations Credit: STEVE FINN

Earlier, Dr Bradbrook urged workers affected by the disruption to take time off to join them as activists prepared for a fourth day of action in the capital.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "I think our protest has been awesome, we are making history at the minute...people are having a fantastic time on the streets."

When challenged by presenter Nick Robinson that some people were having a "miserable" time as a result of the disruption, Dr Bradbrook responded: "Come and join us...they should take some time off work and come and join us."

The activist later added she thought it was "important people have fun when they are rebelling."

The Mayor of London has been accused by rank and file police officers of “aggravating” climate protests as demonstrators brought havoc to the capital.

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