By Bill Heaney
Police Scotland have pledged to do everything in its power to ensure people who want to protest peacefully at the COP26 climate change conference can do so safely.
Hundreds of officers have been receiving specialist training in public order tactics which includes the need for Police Scotland and individual officers to consider the human rights of all groups involved in, or affected by, protest.
In June, Police Scotland announced that 10,000 officers would be deployed each day during the UN conference in November, making it one of the largest policing operations undertaken in Britain.
Officers will be drafted from all divisions across Scotland, supported by a substantial number of colleagues from other UK police services as part of mutual aid arrangements.
Deployments will include a range of specialisms, including protest liaison teams and public order officers, if required.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr, pictured above, said: “Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do.
“This means that we will protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter-protest at COP26, balanced against the rights of the wider community.
“We will provide a proportionate policing response to any protests and are already engaging with known protest groups to ensure their rights to peaceful assembly and protest are met.
“At the same time, those wishing to protest have a responsibility to do so within the law and I would remind the small minority of people who may be intent on violent disorder or causing damage that we will deal with them swiftly and robustly.
“Part of our open approach to our plans has also involved bringing a number of elected representatives and other interested parties to our training sessions so that they can see first-hand how we embed human rights considerations in our training and planning.”
Around 2500 public order officers from across Police Scotland are coming together during August and September for training ahead of COP26.
World leaders, including Pope Francis, are pledged to be in Scotland for the climate change comference. Protests of every kind have been met by the police in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute.