The head of Police Scotland’s operation for COP26 has warned against any attempt to block the Kingston Bridge during the Glasgow summit.
Climate activists with Insulate Britain have repeatedly blocked the M25 around London in recent weeks amid their calls for the UK Government to guarantee insulation in all homes by 2030.
Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins – the gold commander for the COP26 policing operation – said any similar demonstrations, which he said would endanger the lives of road users and the protesters themselves, in Glasgow would see people taken into custody.
The bridge is part of the M8 motorway and goes through the centre of Glasgow, passing close to the SEC – which will serve as the main venue for the summit.
He stressed Police Scotland will work to facilitate peaceful protest for the duration of the conference, which begins on October 31.
He said: “If we see similar events to what we’ve seen on the M25 where protesters effectively shut off one of the main circular routes in and out of London, that firstly is dangerous – it’s dangerous to other road users, it’s dangerous to people that might be vulnerable in vehicles, and it also has a massive, massive impact on business-as-usual across the whole of the London conurbation.
“If we had a situation where, for example, a group of individuals lay across the Kingston Bridge and effectively brought to a halt one of the main thoroughfares in Scotland that has something like 70,000 vehicles going over it a day, that’s something that’s a real danger to the individuals that are doing it, it’s a real danger to the road users that are traversing the bridge.
“We would take pretty prompt action there.”
Higgins went on to say if a number of protesters were to have a “mass lie-in” in the city’s George Square, “they can lie there as long as they want”.
He added: “In general terms, unless there’s a real threat to life – for example the Kingston Bridge – we have a five-step approach for general blockades.”
The senior officer said police first allow the blockade, before asking protesters to leave, then giving them a time limit, followed by arrests made when the time expires.