Statement from the Acting Police and Crime Comissioner on XR Protests in Cambridge
February 20th, 2020
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those of you who have taken the time to contact me about the Extinction Rebellion protests taking place in Cambridge and how Cambridgeshire Constabulary are responding.
You will not be surprised to hear that I have received a number of comments from residents and workers of Cambridge, as well as elected representatives on their behalf, who have been inconvenienced trying to get on with their lives since the protests began last Sunday (16th February).
I appreciate the frustration many of you feel.
It is clear that many of you support the need to do something about the climate crisis however some of the actions now being taken by the environmental movement are polarising opinion.
As Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, it is my job to hold the Chief Constable to account. I have been and continue to be in daily contact with the Chief to seek assurance as to how the police are responding. I am also in conversation with locally elected representatives to see what can be done in partnership to help reassure people.
We live in a democracy where people have the right to peaceful protest, indeed the police have a duty to facilitate peaceful protest. However, it is important that the right to peacefully protest is balanced against the other responsibilities of the police to promote public safety, maintain public order, prevent crime and protect the rights of others. Both I and the Chief Constable understand this balance and how at times this can lead to public frustration.
The Chief Constable and his team in determining how that balance should be struck throughout the operation, will consider all of the intelligence and information available to them, some of which will not be in the public domain. There is a great deal of national learning for the police to draw upon when it comes to responding to protests and I know that the Chief Constable and his team are in close contact with other forces in developing the approach to dealing with the current events.
You may already be aware, but the Constabulary made an arrest on Tuesday (18th February 2020) in relation to the incident outside Trinity College. Since then a number of arrests (8 to date) have been made for a variety of offences relating to the ongoing protests in Cambridge. Of those arrested, six have been charged with criminal damage and will appear at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on 30th March.
I hope people are now feeling more reassured that the police are responding appropriately and those committing offences are being dealt with as they rightly should be.
The Constabulary are providing regular updates via their social media channels and their website which you may wish to follow.