South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, said: “The police response to tree felling in Sheffield has not changed: they must allow for peaceful protest on the one hand and enable people to go about their lawful business on the other. They must keep the peace and uphold law and order and act proportionately.

“What has changed, however, are the numbers of those protesting – as many as 90 on some days – and the decision by Sheffield City Council to take out an injunction against the protestors, which they, and not the police, implement. This has raised the temperature and has meant that South Yorkshire Police have had to deploy more officers.

“However, in this changed situation I expect the police to remember their responsibilities towards both protestors and contractors and respond proportionately. How many police are deployed at any time is an operational matter for the force. They will make a prudent judgement since an over stretched force will not want to take officers from other duties unnecessarily.

“Last week I commissioned my Advisory Panel for Policing Protests to undertake observation and assessment of South Yorkshire Police’s approach to the ongoing protests. I have specifically asked them to provide me with an independent report as to whether the policing is fair and proportionate and whether the force is effectively engaging with all parties to explain their actions, including with the wider community. Once complete this report will be publicly available on my website.

“My view remains as it always has been that this is not, or should not be, a dispute with the police. It is a matter between Sheffield City Council and some of its residents – a political matter. As such it should be resolved politically and I see no reason why it should not.”