Coronavirus: ‘Safe and secure’ climate summit could be held

Scottish Police Authority to meet via tele-conference for update on preparations for COP26.

Police chiefs are set to be told a “safe and secure” COP26 can still be delivered in Glasgow despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Police Authority will meet via tele-conference on Wednesday and get an update on Police Scotland’s preparations for the United Nations climate conference, planned to take place in November at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC).

But members will also hear “that position may change over the coming months” as the coronavirus outbreak develops.

Tom Halpin, chair of the Policing of COP26 Oversight Group, will deliver a report on his group’s latest meeting, held last week.

It states: “Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 featured heavily in the discussion. The pressure that will be put on COP26 planning teams was acknowledged.

“The group asked Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr if he thought it was right to proceed with the conference given the unprecedented set of circumstances that now exist.

“DCC Kerr advised that, as things stand, his view is that Police Scotland are still in a position to deliver a safe and secure policing operation for COP26, however, that position may change over the coming months.

“The current COVID-19 situation may also impact on the ability of the Metropolitan Police to provide operational assurance.”

Police Scotland was approached on whether the position had changed over the last seven days but did not respond.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK Government wants the event to go-ahead as planned but, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it couldn’t be confirmed.

“I can’t give you a cast-iron guarantee, things are moving so quickly,” he told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

“Obviously it is not until November. We will keep it under close review. We would of course want it to go ahead but I can’t give you any guarantee on that.”

In a statement addressing the impact of virus on policing in Scotland, David Crichton, vice chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: “Our police service has a unique capability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and major events, as already demonstrated in the last year by Brexit planning and COP26. I know that the same will apply in the face of Covid-19.”

Story by local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

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