What do we know about the security plans for COP26?

Glasgow will see the biggest policing operation ever carried out in the UK.

Hundreds of armed police officers have been training for COP26. STV News
Hundreds of armed police officers have been training for COP26.

Scotland will host the biggest and most complicated policing operation ever seen in the UK during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Joe Biden, the Queen and the Pope will be among the world leaders in the city during the first fortnight of November.

Police Scotland and other forces have been planning their response for nearly two years – so how much do we know about what’s in store?

Why such a big policing operation?

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Around 120 heads of state and no less than 20,000 delegates are expected to be in Glasgow.

To put that into context, there were just 11 heads of state at the recent G7 summit in Cornwall.

It’s a logistical challenge because visitors will be staying in hotels across the central belt, not just Glasgow.

Protests are also inevitable – thousands of people could be taking part in demonstrations at any one time.

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Any help for Police Scotland?

Forces from across the UK will contribute to the biggest mass mobilisation of police officers Scotland has ever seen.

Extra officers will be here for three weeks, arriving alongside horses and dogs.

Bosses have also been liaising with police involved in the Capitol Hill riots in Washington at the start of the year to learn lessons ahead of COP26.

Jon Cherry via Getty Images
Lessons are being learned from the riots at Capitol Hill in Washington in January.

How many police officers will be involved?

Up to 10,000 officers will be deployed each day depending on what’s happening. Around 500 from Police Scotland will be armed, as will a “significant” number from other forces.

What sort of protests are expected?

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Police have vowed to take a “friendly” approach towards dealing with protesters and say there’s nothing to indicate a “specific threat” to Glasgow.

They’re expecting four types:

  • Peaceful protests featuring children and families;
  • Demonstrations against specific countries, for example over issues such as human rights;
  • Non-violent direct action, where groups like Extinction Rebellion block roads;
  • Anarchists, who could cause violence and serious disruption.

How much will the policing operation cost?

It’s estimated that the bill could reach £100m, but there have been assurances it won’t affect the policing budget in Scotland.

What other security will be there?

The area around the summit venue – the SEC – will be known as a United Nations ‘blue zone’, making it neutral territory.

The UN will have its own armed personnel in this area.

Police Scotland can only operate in the blue zone under invitation from the UN, under warrant or if there is imminent danger to life.

However, any crimes which take place will be processed under Scots law.


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