Police Scotland underspent by £13m on response to COP26

Papers presented to the Scottish Police Authority on Thursday showed a £13m total underspend at the COP26 Climate conference in Glasgow last year.

Police Scotland underspent by £13m on response to COP26 PA Media

Policing COP 26 was delivered with a £13m underspend, according to papers presented to the Scottish Police Authority.

The climate conference took place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 13 last year, and saw tens of thousands of people visit the city – which prompted a huge police response.

The policing response was allocated a total spend of £158.6m – with £66.8m approved by the COP26 Unit’s Spend Approval Board (SAB); £54.7m in mutual aid and £37m of accommodation costs – which were directly met by the UK Government.

In total, £145m was spent on the policing response, representing a £13m underspend.

Police Scotland have been widely praised for their response to COP26, with the force arresting 97 people and receiving 27 complaints throughout the event.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone said that World Cup organisers are “keen” to see the work being done in Scotland.

Deputy chief constable Will Kerr, who co-ordinated the response, said the low arrest and complaints numbers reflected what the force wanted.

He said: “Compare that to the size and scale of operations in London or elsewhere. That’s a very, very small number of arrests and again reflected what we wanted which was the friendly accommodating and facilitative style of policing with respect to the rights of people.

DCC Kerr revealed that Police Scotland has shared practice with officers in the United States following the success of COP26.

He added: “There’s been a very significant amount of interest on two broad issues in policing in Scotland. One is how we run a big operation from a consistent and unambiguously rights based perspective and two: what’s the style of policing, what’s the de-escalation techniques?

“There’s a very significant amount of interest and we’re able to serve more of that through the International Academy.”

The meeting also acknowledged two incidents of “containment” they were criticised for, which police chiefs defended in the interest of public safety.

DCC Kerr said: “We did a very significant debrief after both of those two occasions where we had to use containment but we had to use public safety grounds and I’m more than satisfied I haven’t looked in detail at both of those occasions but the tactic was absolutely appropriately and proportionately applied by Mark Hargreaves and the tactical commanders on the ground.

“It was necessary for the purpose of public safety particularly when you have a smaller number of protests that are causing a greater public safety risk. We are obliged and we have a duty to step in on those occasions.”

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