An ecologist, who had previously been jailed for protesting, was arrested over a climate protest and taken to hospital from her police cell due to a hunger-strike.

Emma Smart, who is affiliated with Extinction Rebellion, was among nine scientists arrested outside the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy building in Westminster on April 13.  

After protesting for two hours, Emma and the other scientists were arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.  

The 45-year-old claims that the Metropolitan Police kept her longer in custody for four days due to her spending two months in jail over another protest with Insulate Britain last year.   

She says she was kept in a “basic windowless" cell for four days at Charing Cross Police Station, while the other scientists were released after 24 hours. 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said that decision regarding bail is taken on a “case by case basis” while considering a range of matters.

This includes whether there is a risk to the public or the person detained, the likelihood of someone not complying with any bail conditions or absconding, and any previous history of offending while on bail.

Emma said: “It was frightening, jail is not a pleasant place to be.  

“You're between four walls with a metal bench as a bed.  

“But what’s more frightening for me is that my nieces who are currently six and eight won't have food and will be fighting in the streets over fresh water in 10 years due to the ongoing issues.  

“I'm more frightened of that rather than being kept in a room for four days.” 

She said the main objective of the climate protest was to highlight the issues caused by new oil and gas exploration.  

The scientists pasted poster-sized pages from climate science papers onto the building glass, glued their hands to the window, and used spray chalk to draw extinction symbols.  

Emma started to feel unwell during her four days by experiencing “severe” headaches due to her being dehydrated. 

She was then taken to hospital and decided to end her strike by accepting treatment as didn’t want to waste NHS resources.  

Emma explained: “When I got to hospital I said to myself that I’m not doing this to die or even damaged myself.  

“I don’t want to put my family through that pain knowing that I could die.  

“I was thinking more about them rather than the condition I was in. 

“I realised that the department was very busy.  

“So, I did not want to waste any resources that other people needed more than me. 

“I drank some water and then after recovering I was taken back to the police station.” 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said while people are in custody, officers have a “duty of care for their welfare” and will ensure anyone’s “medical needs.”

Emma said the objective of her protests was not to “cause harm” to anyone but she just wanted her voice to be heard.

She explained: “We believe that how we strike and protest are the most effective way.

"This is a reason we glued ourselves to the building which was simply to stay there longer. 

"Otherwise, the police will usually quickly move you on."

As of October 21, the scientists on trial for criminal damage were acquitted by a magistrates’ court in London, as reported by Extinction Rebellion.  

Emma said the whole experience was “overwhelming” after being found not guilty over the charges.  

She explained: “Of course being found not guilty was a relief, but injustice still carries on.  

“So, I feel quite bittersweet about the whole thing, to be honest. 

“When I sat next to the incredible scientist in court while facing the charges it was just absurd and so surreal. 

“I honestly sat in that courtroom and started crying because I still feel that justice still hasn’t been served.  

“It’s still concerning bringing scientists in a courtroom for protesting while the real criminals are still out there.  

“This is not justice, compared to the decisions that are being made by leaders who are continuing to extract fossil fuels.” 

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “Emma Smart, 44 (27.07.77) of Weymouth, Dorset has been charged with criminal damage

“The charge relates to an incident in Victoria Street, SW1H on Wednesday, 13 April

“Smart was arrested at the scene and charged the following day. She was remanded in custody to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court at the first opportunity. Due to the courts being closed on bank holidays, the date of that appearance was Saturday, 16 April.

“Decisions regarding bail are taken on a case by case basis and consider a range of matters including, but not limited to, whether there is a risk to the public or the person detained, the likelihood of someone not complying with any bail conditions or absconding and any previous history of offending while on bail.

“Whilst people are in custody, officers have a duty of care for their welfare and will ensure the medical needs of all detainees are considered.  Health care professionals are available to each custody suite.”

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