Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested by the Metropolitan Police before causing serious disruption to the public, it was revealed late last night.
The force said it had launched a major proactive policing operation to identify and arrest people they believe would cause reckless and serious disturbances.
Officers worked with surrounding forces and the National Police Coordination Center to ensure a joint operation to preemptively arrest environmental protesters before they take to the streets.
Met Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said: “Acting on intelligence, this operation is moving quickly and will continue tonight and into the night with multiple arrest investigations ongoing.
“So far tonight we have made three arrests related to this activity.
“This is an evolving situation and we suspect the intent of these individuals is disproportionate to any legitimate right to protest and clearly crosses the line into illegal activity.”
He said the Met had “mobilized specialist teams” of more than 10,000 officers to the capital since October, now in place to deal with the possibility that “exceptional suspects are still bent on unlawfully disturbing the public”.
He added that the force’s investigation gave them “strong reason” to suspect that the group Just Stop Oil intended to disrupt major motorway road networks, risking “serious harm to the public”.
Meanwhile, in another blow to the climate group, protesters can no longer disrupt England’s busiest motorway after National Highways won a High Court injunction.
The court has granted a new injunction to end unlawful protests on the M25, which circles Greater London, in a bid to end the environmental group’s disruption.
Climate activists now risk being jailed, indefinitely fined or having property confiscated if they turn onto the busy highway and fixate on an object or structure that s find there.
Anyone who assists them in such an act of disruption can also be held in contempt of court.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said he had asked National Highways to seek the final injunction to tackle a “reckless minority of protesters”.
He said: “Protesting by blocking busy highways or scaling overhead structures is extremely dangerous and disruptive, which is why I have asked National Highways to seek this new injunction, which the courts have granted.”
The injunction was obtained in addition to a court order obtained by National Highways earlier this year which targeted protesters, including those in Insulate Britain.
The previous injunction covers the M25, M25 feeder roads and major roads in Kent and around the Port of Dover until May 2023.
Duncan Smith, executive director of operations at National Highways, said: “Protesting on these busy roads is extremely dangerous for the protesters themselves and all road users.
“National Highways remains committed to doing everything in its power to seek to deter illegal protest activity and punish all those who violate restraining orders in the eyes of the law.”
Activists ‘formally pledge’ to break the law
This follows an investigation that emerged last week that Just Stop Oil protesters must sign a contract agreeing to break the law when joining the group.
Climate activists are asked to complete a form in which they “formally undertake” to participate in any action “that will lead to my arrest at least once”.
Prospective protesters must also promise that “only a dramatic life event such as the loss of a loved one or illness will prevent me from participating in this action”.
Policy Exchange researchers, who published the report by a former Metropolitan Police chief inspector, called the group’s messaging a “cult”.
The report states: “The law risks being seen as a donkey if those who live, work and campaign by the rules can see a particular group of people pursue their political goals, however laudable, through illegal – and to a large extent get away with it.”
He added that ‘exasperated members of the public are beginning to take the law into their own hands’ after becoming frustrated with an ‘unnecessarily risk-averse’ police response to eco-protesters.