Statement from Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, Ray Bisby
February 18th, 2020
As Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, I wanted to update you on the actions I am taking with regards the Extinction Rebellion protests that are taking place in Cambridge this week.
Firstly, I do appreciate the depth of feeling and the impact the current action being taken by Extinction Rebellion may have on those living and working in Cambridge and those visiting the city.
I have received a number of comments into my office, from members of the public, as well as local and national media. I have, and will continue to, convey that opinion to the Chief Constable. I am continually monitoring the situation and am in daily contact with the Chief Constable to seek assurance as to how the police are responding.
The law allows me to hold the Chief Constable to account for the performance of his officers and staff. However, the law does not allow me to get involved in operational policing matters, such as directing the Chief Constable as to how his police force should exercise their powers. This includes how to respond to the Extinction Rebellion protests.
The legal right to a peaceful protest which the police have a duty to facilitate, needs to be balanced against the other responsibilities of the police to promote public safety, maintain public order, prevent crime and protect the rights of others.
Both the Chief Constable and I understand this fine balance and how at times this can lead to public frustration. The Constabulary is in a challenging position where they will continue to work in partnership to provide a proportionate policing response to the protest, while also balancing the needs and rights of protestors with those impacted by the protest. It is in everyone’s interest that this protest remains peaceful and that the response to it is proportionate.
The Constabulary are working with local agencies to mitigate the impact of any disruptions caused by the protests. I am speaking with locally elected representatives to seek their views on what we can do together to help reassure people living, working and visiting the city.
The Constabulary has today (18th February 2020) confirmed that an arrest has been made in relation to the incident outside Trinity College. A 19-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and remains in custody. Investigations are ongoing and Trinity College are assisting the Police in this matter.
They have also confirmed that a number of arrests have been made for a variety of offences relating to the ongoing protests in Cambridge.
The Constabulary will be providing regular updates via their social media channels. I advise member of the public to check those channels and the Constabulary’s website for updates.