Cop 26: Police Scotland vow to deal quickly with protesters who block roads

Police Scotland have said they will deal “more quickly” with protesters who disrupt main traffic routes during the Cop26 climate conference.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 3:18 pm
Handout photo issued by Insulate Britain of protesters from Insulate Britain blocking a roundabout at Junction 3 of the M25.

Senior officers have stressed that the tone of policing will be “friendly” but said they will deal “swiftly and robustly” with protesters who cause violence or damage.

Over the past five weeks, campaigners from Insulate Britain have blocked roads in England on 14 days, with activists often gluing their hands to the carriageway to increase the length of time it takes for police to remove them.

The group has suspended its “campaign of civil resistance” but will continue from October 25.

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Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “People at protests sometimes break the law in a number of ways that aren’t linked to violence or disorder, such as blocking roads.

“Some disruption is inevitable during the event. If someone is causing significant disruption by wilfully obstructing a main traffic route then officers may move through the various stages of our graduated response more quickly than they would during instances which are causing minimum disruption.”

He said activists have a responsibility to protest “within the law” and warned “the small minority of people who may be intent on violent disorder or causing damage” will be dealt with swiftly and robustly”.

About 10,000 officers will be deployed each day during the gathering of global leaders, with Scotland’s forces being bolstered by police from other parts of the UK.

It will be the largest police operation ever undertaken in Scotland.

Police Scotland said officers from other parts of the UK will “receive detailed briefings on the style and tone of policing ahead of being deployed”.

Mr Kerr added: “Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation and has a duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to protect the rights of people who wish to peacefully protest or counter-protest, balanced against the rights of the wider community.

“We will provide a proportionate policing response to any protests and have been engaging with known protest groups for some time to ensure their rights to peaceful assembly and protest are met.”

He said contingencies are in place to deal with additional pressures on services during Cop26 and said he could “reassure the public that if they need an emergency response from us they will get it”.