Police face picking up the tab for protests
THE Capital's police force was today left facing a bill running into hundreds of thousands of pounds after climate change protesters caused widespread disruption across the city.
Lothian and Borders Police were forced to draft in officers from four forces across Scotland to deal with hundreds of protesters camped outside the Royal Bank of Scotland's global headquarters at Gogarburn.
Climate camp activists took action against RBS branches across the city, supergluing their hands together and locking themselves to objects in the banks.
The disruption reached its peak at around 9.30am. Police said protesters poured what they believed to be a mixture of diesel and vegetable oil on to the A720 carriageways at Bankhead.
City of Edinburgh Council had to use 7.5 tonnes of grit to clean the roads, severely disrupting traffic.
Fourteen arrests were made yesterday in an operation which saw hundreds of officers and riot police deployed.
One senior police source estimated that the final cost of policing the event, which saw officers from Tayside, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway and Strathclyde forces drafted in, would cost the force "many hundreds of thousands of pounds".
Scottish police forces can ask the Scottish Government to meet some of the costs of policing major events but there are fears that, because of the nature of the Climate Camp event, Lothian and Borders Police could be saddled with the huge bill.
Forces that supplied extra officers to police the Climate Camp event will claim back overtime and operations costs from Lothian and Borders Police. One police source said the cost of a single constable on overtime is likely to cost the force 150 per day, with higher rates for drafting in sergeants and specialist units.
Iain Whyte, convener of Lothian and Borders Police Board, said that unlike the G8 protests, where the government agreed to meet much of the operation costs, the force could be left to cover the whole bill due to the local nature of the protests.
He said: "For something like this where they've (Lothian and Borders police] had to call in a lot of mutual aid, the home forces of those officers will ask for payment back.
"From early on there was an implication that, because it wasn't something that government had said they were bringing here, this one might just have to be one of those things that the force has to deal with from within its resources.
"With the G8 we asked and we got help with that but obviously that was a different situation in the sense that the UK government decided to hold the G8 in Gleneagles.
"It's maybe not as easy to make the case for something like a climate camp, which is a bunch of protesters just turning up without even discussing with police and the local authorities what they intend to do.
"I don't know the details and won't until the chief constable reports to the board, but I would imagine it will easily be tens of thousand of pounds and may well be into the hundreds of thousands. But right now the chief constable has done the right thing in making sure he had officers available to keep local people safe and minimise the disruption."
Yesterday's arrests were made in the city's Nicolson Street, as well as at Forth Ports, Gogarburn Bridge, Hunter Square and Glasgow Road. At Nicolson Street, a 25-year-old man and two women, aged 38 and 34, were arrested and charged with breach of the peace.
Five were arrested and charged with breach of the peace following an incident at Forth Ports.
One man, aged 58, was arrested and charged with assault in relation to an incident on Gogarburn Bridge. A 24-year-old woman was arrested and charged with vandalism in the city's Hunter Square and two men aged 31 and 33 were charged with breach of the peace in relation to an incident in Glasgow Road, Edinburgh. Even after the arrests Tensions later rose again at the Gogarburn site as riot police entered a tense stand-off with protesters.
Shortly before 6pm pockets of protesters began throwing missiles and using catapults to fire water balloons filled with sticky liquid onto the police front line. They also targeted the main HQ building, leaving brown liquid smeared across the building's large windows.
Heavily armoured police brought out shields to stop the missiles hitting their targets. One van was rammed by a home-made rhinoceros head attached to a wooden post.
Most of those arrested are expected to be released on an undertaking to appear at court at a later date.
The camp, which is just yards from the main RBS building, is expected to disband later today.
DESPITE protesters being criticised for their own "reckless" behaviour, some have hit out at police for their treatment of an injured activist.
Rita Chada, 24, from London, said an injured man she helped to carry from the site on Sunday night had been searched by police before he was allowed to be seen by paramedics.
She said: "A group went on to the site and tried to get into the building by breaking some windows.
"It was done in a controlled way, it wasn't just mindless destruction.
"Someone was injured in the leg and the police wouldn't let the ambulance come on site, we had to carry them out to be treated.
"The police searched them before they got into the ambulance."
Police superintendent Lesley Clark said police strategy towards protesters changed after her officers were subjected to violence on Sunday which left several windows at the HQ smashed.
She said that among the protesters was a group "determined to wreak havoc".
A force spokesman said pouring oil on to a busy road had been "extremely reckless and dangerous" and "a disturbing escalation in the activities of the protesters".
• This article was edited on 6 October 2010. The allegation that a substance was poured on to the A720 was made by Lothian and Borders Police and our story was updated to make the source of this information clear. b
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Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
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