Courts are preparing for an influx of Extinction Rebellion protesters who were arrested during demonstrations in central London earlier this year.
Two courtrooms at Westminster Magistrates’ Court have been booked out for a day each week for the next 19 weeks to process the climate change activists.
Around 35 protesters are expected to face court today, with that figure jumping to around 50 from next week.
Those arrested range from 20-years-old to 76, and include Olympic gold medal-winning canoeist Etienne Stott.
The Metropolitan Police said 10 people have already been through the courts, with seven of those convicted of a criminal offence and three dismissed.
Lawyer Raj Chada is representing around 300 of the climate change activists, and said the attempt to prosecute so many people was “beggars belief”.
“The simple fact is that most of those protesters will get nothing more than a conditional discharge or fine,” he said.
“How can this amount of court time and money be wasted on this? The priority should be to tackle the climate crisis that threatens us rather than the prosecution of peaceful protesters.”
Extinction Rebellion said that while activists welcome their day in court, the “tsunami of cases” puts an unprecedented burden on the legal system.
But Met Police spokeswoman Commander Jane Connors said the climate change protesters had ignored police requests.
“The serious disruption caused to people in central London during the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in April was beyond unacceptable,” she said.
“Protesters continually chose to ignore the conditions imposed by the Met Police Service in order to keep London moving. As a result an exceptionally large number of arrests were made.”