Police Scotland prepared for 300 arrests per day at COP26

Police Scotland prepared for 300 arrests per day at COP26

Bernard Higgins

Police Scotland is preparing plans to deal with 300 arrests per day at the COP26 conference even though security costs have been slashed to £180 million, The Herald reports.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins told MSPs at Holyrood that the singe force is in talks with the Crown Office over whether the courts will be able to cope with the influx of cases.

He said that the number of people being processed “at any one time” could be as many as “300 a day”.

He added: “To be clear, it is not my expectation that will happen over the course of a 14-day period, given the ebb and flow of the conference, but there may be days when the level of protest moves from peaceful protest to direct action and we will have to step in and take a more robust approach to it.”

ACC Higgins told Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing that the cost is anticipated at £180m, rather than the “worst-case scenario” bill of £250m.

He said: “That’s simply because of the decision I took, ratified and endorsed by the chief constable, about the actual level of resources we need.”

Police Scotland would, he said, “facilitate peaceful protest where at all possible” and that environmental campaigners would “absolutely not be classed by Police Scotland as a terrorist threat”.

He added: “On a daily basis we will have public order officers deployed for public safety reasons, we will have conventional officers supporting the security operation at the person and vehicle search points.

“We will have other officers deployed, close protection officers if we have protected persons.

“We will have a firearms response there in terms of the wider threat from terrorism.”

Questioned about the impact the coronavirus could have on COP26, he said: “It currently forms part of our thinking around contingency.

“You could reasonably expect to lose 30 per cent of your workforce.”

He added: “It may have no impact at all, it may cause a delay, a postponement or it may cause the conference to be slimmed down in terms of who attends.

“Instead of having 30,000 delegates, we may find the conference only has the key policy-makers.”

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