Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said the relationship between protesters and the police has been “largely non-contentious”.
By Lucy Ashton
A series of small protests took place in Glasgow before about 100,000 people joined a huge demonstration on Saturday. It was the largest protest in the city in recent memory.
Police praised the majority of the “good natured” marchers who took part in the procession from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.
Officers made 22 arrests at the event – one after a socialist group were contained and the rest after protesters chained themselves on a bridge.
A small number of people were also arrested earlier in the week during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration where activists tried to force their way into the offices of the SSE energy company.
Assistant Chief Constable Ritchie said: “For such a highly significant event, to reach the end of the first week with fewer than 50 arrests being made is testament to the fact the relationship between protesters and the police has been largely non-contentious.
“This event has already provided us with some unique challenges, but our officers and staff have risen to face them, and the broadly good nature of the members of the public we are interacting with has made this a widely positive experience.
“I very much hope this atmosphere continues into the second week ahead of COP26 coming to its conclusion.”
Assistant Chief Constable Ritchie told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland a small group of socialist activists were contained during Saturday’s three-mile march through Glasgow because they were slowing down other marchers and failing to follow police instructions.
About 10,000 officers are being deployed in Glasgow each day during the UN climate summit.
In one of the largest policing operations undertaken in the country, officers have been drafted in from across Scotland and from police services around the UK.
More protests by campaigners are planned for later this week.
About 40 Extinction Rebellion protestors laid down outside the offices of an assets management company in the centre of Glasgow on Monday.
Some of the protesters covered themselves in makeshift shrouds and have described their protest as a “die in”.
They are targeting the company Mercer because they say it invests in fossil fuel companies.
Scientists Rebellion, the group which chained themselves to King George V Bridge in Glasgow on Saturday leading to 21 arrests, has also been protesting again.
The group gathered at the same location for a “teach-in” protest.
COP26 – Statement on youth march
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: “Thousands of young people took to the streets of Glasgow today in a spectacular event claiming their right to be heard in discussions on the future of the planet.
“It was hugely inspiring to see children of all ages getting involved and expressing their commitment to tackling climate change and protecting their future.
“This was a really important day in the COP26 schedule and we were pleased to be part of such a memorable event for these young participants and for Glasgow. Our officers enjoyed engaging with young people, many have children of their own who were taking part in today’s march.
“Policing of this event was, as promised, proportionate, as has been our overall approach throughout COP26. Our officers stayed in the background but were there to support young people and be on hand if needed to ensure their safety.
“Today’s success is largely down to the high level of engagement between the protest organisers and Police Scotland.
“Over the course of the climate change conference our officers, including our mutual aid colleagues, have deployed and engaged with protesters on more than 300 occasions. Until now there have been fewer than 20 arrests made, most for disorder type offences, and this demonstrates the positive engagement between police officers and protesters and the facilitating policing approach to peaceful protest. We would not have been able to achieve this without the assistance, hard work and commitment of our mutual aid colleagues in supporting the policing of this significant global event.
“Tomorrow we will be supporting the climate change march which is expected to draw many thousands of participants. We will be there to maintain the safety of the public and participants and to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or to counter-protest. These rights are always balanced against the rights of the wider community.
“There will be an increased police presence in Glasgow tomorrow and roads, public transport and the streets will be significantly busier than would normally be expected in the city on a Saturday.
“Whether you are attending the marches or are travelling to Glasgow for another reason, please plan your journey in advance and prepare for delays and potential changes required at short notice for operational reasons. “If you’re going to a march, please act responsibly, be respectful in your actions and follow the route and instructions given to you by event organisers or police officers.
“Our Police Liaison Officers, wearing light blue police vests, are becoming a common sight across the city. Their role is to make sure that participants can exercise their democratic right to demonstrate while helping to ensure the policing response is proportionate. People taking part in protest are encouraged to speak with these officers, especially if they have any welfare or safety issues.
“Remember, we’re here to support your rights, help your voice be heard and to keep everybody safe.”