What is Extinction Rebellion?

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a movement who use non-violent disobedience around the world in an attempt to prevent extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse. Their mission is to call up 3.5% of the population to fuel change, creating a world fit for generations to come. There has been a significant rise in XR activity in recent years, as issues like climate change are becoming increasingly important. It is estimated XR protests have cost over £50 million in policing since 2019, causing unrest among many and significant disruption. A YouGov poll shows, 54% of the public are opposed to XR, whereas only 36% support it to some degree.

Many cases of protests force the general public to a halt, causing delays to people and businesses across the UK. In a recent example, M25 Junctions were blocked by XR protests for national home insulation, delaying thousands. XR protests tend to disrupt transport in busy areas, which has led to the Metropolitan Police making more than 3,600 arrests in the previous London protests.

How Expeditious helped minimise disruption.

In October 2019, Expeditious Services received a request from a facilities management client, to support them throughout an XR protest in London. 3-4 weeks of static security was required to protect property and help maintain the food supply into London. Intel suggested that XR were targeting a well-known food & drink hub to directly disrupt London’s food supply. We were needed to present a deterrent and secure all entry/exit points across the site to facilitate unfettered ingress/egress. This involved 20 guards with door supervisor licenses, 10 during each day and 10 through the nights. The requirement of our security was stood down after roughly a week as only minimal issues were reported.

Our response was a huge success and in the case of extreme issues occurring, we were fully prepared. Our security team were in communication with our Critical Control Helpdesk (CCHD) to support the reduction in incidents. CCHD is our 24/7/365 manned control room, leading all security operations, with a strong bond with officers for better performance. Our officers presented a strong deterrence throughout the week of cover, and the food supply was maintained, meaning the food & drink hub could operate as usual. Not only did our guards protect the food supply but they also helped prevent disruption to the public who commute in that area. Without the correct support, these protests could have escalated to their usual size and restricted the food supply for a matter of weeks.

Activism is becoming increasingly common so it is important that the correct security and or policing is in place. It is also important for businesses and the public to understand how to prepare for activism/large scale disruption.

How can your business avoid disruption caused by XR protests and other activism?

• Stay up to date with protests in the news, especially what’s happening in your local area
• Have a good relationship with a security provider for emergency support
• Develop a resilience plan for what to do when adverse situations like activism occur
• Being risk aware by conducting risk assessments, keeping valuable items off-site, or ensuring they can easily be removed for safekeeping in case of a break-in.

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