Police probationers deployed during COP26 ‘before training complete’

A number were reportedly dispatched to the summit in Glasgow, with others plugging gaps in other parts of the country.

Police probationers deployed during COP26 ‘before training complete’ iStock

Police Scotland deployed 140 probationers who had not finished their training to assist during COP26, it has been revealed.

They were released from police college to help during the summit after just three weeks of training, according to a report in 1919 Magazine.

The magazine reported that some of them – who are not supposed to be sent out on duty until 12 weeks of training have been completed – were dispatched to the summit in Glasgow, whilst others plugged gaps in other parts of the country.

One female probationer told 1919 that she had a knife pulled on her.

“Even after 12 weeks being at the college it would be a big adjustment leaving, you’d be worried after the 12 weeks, never mind three,” she told the magazine.

“We had stopped someone which was initially a drugs search and he actually had a knife on him. That was a bit of a worry because it was just the two of us that were there.

“He was resisting arrest, spitting, being abusive, but that’s the only aggressive person I’ve come across so far.”

The probationer also recounted her experience of being called to a sudden death, despite not having the appropriate training.

She said: “I had never seen a dead body so that was my biggest worry. You usually get an opportunity to go to the mortuary to prepare yourself for it, so that was my biggest thing to deal with.”

It is understood the 140 officers will continue on the frontline until going back to the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan later this month to complete their training.

Deputy chief officer David Page explained that recruits had all received instruction in core policing skills, first aid and officer safety training before being deployed.

“We utilised 140 probationers undergoing officer training with Police Scotland during the COP26 policing operation,” he said.

“The majority were sent to our local policing divisions and departments around the country and were tasked with assisting business as usual, while others were deployed to work specifically at COP26.

“This is not the first instance of deploying probationers to assist with major policing operations, as a number of probationers were deployed last year to assist in the early stages of our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These recruits had all received instruction in core policing skills, first aid and officer safety training prior to being deployed, and the skillset and readiness of each officer was taken into account. They were accompanied on deployment by experienced officers.

“The officers who were deployed will return to the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan later this month and will complete the remaining weeks of their training.”

David Hamilton, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, raised concerns over a lack of resources available.

He said: “Nobody would choose for officers with just three weeks training to be deployed in an operational environment.

“This however is policing in 21st century Scotland where we simply can’t afford not to use every resource that we have.

“I was surprised to meet a number of these probationers at COP26 as they were only ever meant to be backfilling in ‘business-as-usual’ – but they were being well looked after by their colleagues and I’m sure will have picked up some important skills and experiences. 

“However, I suspect those who were working in ‘business-as-usual’ will have had the biggest shock and hope that the volume of demand, lack of resources and danger they face every day doesn’t discourage them from returning to finish their training.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The deployment of resources during COP26 was a matter for the Chief Constable.

“We currently have 17,232 officers, a higher number than at any time during the previous administration, with Scotland having around 32 officers per 10,000 population compared to around 23 per 10,000 population in England and Wales.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson, Jamie Greene MSP, insisted that the “mistreatment” of police has to stop.

He said: “There is no doubt that years of SNP neglect after they merged Scotland’s police forces contributed to undertrained staff having to be deployed to the frontline during COP26 – and clearly this must never become the norm.

“Hundreds of frontline officers have been lost from Scotland’s streets since the SNP’s centralisation – and they have consistently short-changed them on funding for equipment too.

“This mistreatment of our police has to stop. By introducing our Local Policing Act, the Scottish Conservatives would ensure that our police are always well-funded, well-equipped, and well-staffed.

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