The Metropolitan police would not release up-to-date figures on cell capacity, but data from two years ago showed they had 799 cells available across London. With cuts to policing budgets, this number is likely to have fallen, so reports that cell space is under pressure are credible.
Extinction Rebellion protesters, activists and legal observers have told Guardian reporters some of those arrested are being taken to police stations outside London, with several saying demonstrators are being taken to Luton, while others mentioned Brighton and Essex.
The Met would not confirm or deny the claim. Those who have been arrested are being taken to MPS custody suites throughout London, a spokesperson said. Contingency plans are in place should custody suites become full. We will not discuss [the matter] further for operational reasons.
Nick also pointed out that the UK had already responded to the global climate change crisis by setting draconian emissions targets, but the protester said that the Government wasn't "acting fast enough".
However, despite the volume of arrests, anecdotal evidence from those on the ground suggests the police are approaching the protests with a distinctly lighter touch. One legal observer said the diminishing capacity might be a reason why police were arresting people so slowly. The other thing is that if they come in and do a mass arrest, they might lose public support, she added.
4:05 If this is what it takes: London reacts to the Extinction Rebellion shutdown – video Policing protests has long been a sore point for the Met, with the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 summit demonstrations in 2009 leaving a lasting mark on the forces reputation, as did the scenes of kettling at the student protests in 2010.
More than 280 people arrested in connection with London climate change protests
There is a sense the Extinction Rebellion protests are being policed with a strict adherence to guidelines on public order policing. Forces are supposed to follow six principles when policing public order operations, according to the College of Policing, the professional standards body.
“Shall We Make Bicycles Out Of Hemp?” Nick Ferrari Asks Extinction Rebellion Protester
Under policing standards and tone, commanders need to set the style and tone at the start of an operation and be aware of the potential impact on public perceptions. Under communication, police are told to use engagement and dialogue whenever possible, and establish and maintain links with communities, groups, partners, event organisers.
Under proportionate response, officers are told to demonstrate consideration and application of relevant human rights principles, and police powers should be used appropriately and proportionately.
Video: Climate change activists superglue themselves to London train
The legal framework sets out statutory and common law powers in relation to public order policing, which must be used in accordance with the European convention on human rights. The relevant acts include the Public Order Act 1986 and Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
In order to impose this condition, the Met required evidence that serious disruption was being caused to communities in London. We so far have 55 bus routes closed and 500,000 people affected as a result … we are satisfied that this threshold has been met and this course of action is necessary.
Activists have caused widespread travel disruption in London in a bid to raise awareness about climate change