Police spat on and struck with human waste at sectarian riot in Glasgow

Officers were spat on and had human waste thrown at them during last Friday's riot, according to Police Scotland's chaplain.
Officers were spat on and had human waste thrown at them during last Friday's riot, according to Police Scotland's chaplain.
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Police officers responding to mass sectarian violence in Glasgow were spat on and had human waste thrown at them, a Police Scotland chaplain has claimed.

Reverend Neil Galbraith said the sectarian unrest was just one of many “nightmares” being faced by rank and file officers, who he warned are growing increasingly tired and frustrated at the extent of their workload.

It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed the Scottish Government is considering changing the law to tackle the "scourge" of sectarianism following the flashpoint.

Mr Galbraith, minister of Cathcart Old Parish Church in Glasgow, said some public order officers have to wear the same special suits for five days continuously as they have not had time to get them washed and dried.

He pointed out that in the last week alone, officers have had to deal with an attempted murder outside a mosque, two high-profile football matches, political gatherings, and several other incidents on top of last Friday’s unrest in the Govan area of the city.

In the aftermath of that incident, which saw counter-protesters target a planned Irish Unity march, Mr Galbraith revealed the physical toll on some Police Scotland officers.

He explained: “On Friday night I just thought, ‘This is not acceptable’. There was a female cop there, her hair was in a bun - she didn’t actually know that somebody had spat at her a few times, and in amongst the bun was big, greasy spittle.

“There was another officer there who was part of public order. Clearly somebody had got quite close to them, and clearly it was somebody who had thrown the waste, because unbeknownst the guy actually had it on his shoulder.

“When he goes home and washes that uniform, believe it or not he’s actually washing something that’s a biohazard.”

Mr Galbraith, who is also the chief executive of the Glasgow the Caring City charity, has written to Humza Yousaf, the justice secretary, detailing the extreme conditions officers are working under.

He wrote: “Our officers are under equipped, require more resources, and are being asked to face too many challenges without the right requirements to undertake the tasks being placed upon them.

The officers in his care, he said, were “tired and frustrated, even depressed,” pointing out that while the force had “first class leadership” it lacked resources.

He went on: “As this weekend has shown, and the months to come will sadly prove, we need better resourcing and more officers employed.

“Politicians need to come and see for themselves the challenges being placed upon the Force by the decisions they are taking, and just how demanding the job is.

“The sectarian issue is only one nightmare being faced, there are many more. We cannot keep going to the well, and demanding more, without replacing and improving what we are taking out, and just now we are taking too much and the resource is being drained.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: "We take the welfare of our officers and animals seriously, and this is factored in to the planning and delivery of large scale events."

Two Iriish republican marches are set to go ahead in Glasgow this weekend after Glasgow City Council said it was options were limited by the legal riot to march and protest.

The events by the A Cairde Na Heireann (Calton Republicans) and Friends of Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) groups will take place on Saturday afternoon.