Police response to Rangers title celebrations ‘proportionate’

The force came under fire for failing to disperse fans celebrating the club's Premiership win.

Police response to Rangers title celebrations ‘proportionate’ SNS Group

An independent adviser to Police Scotland has said the force acted “proportionately” after Rangers fans flouted lockdown rules to celebrate winning the Premiership.

Police Scotland came under criticism after failing to disperse thousands of fans who gathered across Glasgow two weeks ago, celebrating the club’s first title win in ten years.

The mass gatherings were widely condemned, with both the First Minister and Justice Secretary urging fans to go home.

In a report from Police Scotland’s Independent Advisory group (IAG), John Scott QC, Solicitor Advocate, wrote that “the overall approach to the policing of these events in Glasgow on March 6 and 7 was informed by, and consistent with, relevant human rights principles and considerations, in particular, lawfulness, necessity and proportionality.”

He highlighted that the UK Government’s Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), saying: “Research shows that heavy-handed policing can actually provoke crowd conflict.”

Mr Scott said that the “forceful policing in London” at the Sarah Everard vigil had caused the public to “revise their opinions” of the “seemingly light-touch policing in Glasgow”, highlighting that that some action had been taken as a result of the gathering, with 28 arrests and seven fixed penalty notices.

The solicitor also said that the ambiguity around laws restricting public gatherings due to the lockdown caused some confusion and required the Scottish Government to “clarify the position with assemblies and protests, especially as we move towards further easing of restrictions”.

He added: “Clear and effective communications are important to assist in explaining the different policing approach taken in different situations which might otherwise be portrayed as inconsistencies, especially as comparisons with other events are a central part of many political, media and other narratives around the policing of assemblies.

“In passing, it is worth saying that clear communications and a consistent approach, together with detailed preparations and extensive engagement with the two clubs and fan bases no doubt played a part in yesterday’s Celtic/Rangers game passing off with no significant disorder or large gatherings.”

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