COP26 will see ‘biggest police operation since 2012 Olympics’

Senior police chief says arrival of US President Joe Biden and Pope Francis would 'escalate the event significantly'.

COP26 will see ‘biggest police operation since 2012 Olympics’ PA Media
Huge policing operation will be in place for UN climate change conference in Glasgow.

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow will likely be the largest policing operation since the 2012 Olympics in London, a senior Police Scotland officer has said.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins also said the potential arrival of world leaders such as US President Biden and Pope Francis could escalate the event significantly.

Discussing the event during Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, Mr Higgins said the scale of the summit means officers from other forces in the UK will need to be brought in under Police Scotland’s command.

He said that while police will facilitate peaceful protests around the event, “riotous” behaviour will not be tolerated.

COP26, due to take place in November, has been described as the most significant international meeting on climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Speaking to MPs on the committee, Mr Higgins said: “It is literally going to be the biggest policing event possibly since the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

“Now the reality is I cannot deliver the policing operation that is required for it to be a safe and secure event without the assistance of UK policing.

“So there will pretty much be a 60/40 split – Police Scotland officers and officers from the wider UK forces.”

Mr Higgins said he expects four broad types of protesters around the summit.

The first will be people who want their voices heard on climate change, the second are people who wish to protest against a specific country or world leader, the third will be those wanting to engage in direct action, and the fourth are likely to be anarchist, far-right or far-left groups.

He said: “If you consider some of the peaceful protests you’ve seen recently and contrast that with, for example, the protest on Capitol Hill in Washington.

“The policing plan has got to be flexible enough to facilitate lawful, peaceful protest but also robust enough to repel any determined violent or riotous behaviour.”

He added that the UN will allow some protest groups inside the “blue zone” of the summit on certain days.