Secret stop-and-search order issued for Loyalist protest

Demonstrators against the temporary march ban gather in Glasgow's George Square. The protest passed off peacefully. Picture: John Devlin
Demonstrators against the temporary march ban gather in Glasgow's George Square. The protest passed off peacefully. Picture: John Devlin
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Police Scotland is being quizzed over why it did not publicly announce a controversial stop-and-search order was in place across Glasgow on the day of a mass Loyalist protest.

The number of political marches allowed in the city and how best to regulate them has become a major political talking point in recent weeks after riot police were last month called out to Govan.

Section 60 orders allow officers to search anyone in a designated area for a defined period of time if they anticipate serious violence taking place. They are used by the Metropolitan Police and other English constabularies to cover large-scale events with the potential for unrest but are seldom used north of the border.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal a S60 was in place across Glasgow on the morning of Saturday, 14 September, when hundreds of people joined a demonstration in the city’s George Square to protest against a council decision to temporarily ban marches over fears of sectarian disorder.

No arrests were made in George Square after the protest passed off peacefully, and no-one was searched under the order.

Katrina French, chief executive of StopWatch, which campaigns for fair and effective policing, said: “I am concerned the police did not publicise the fact the order was in place,” she said. “The whole idea is you use a S60 as a deterrent. An announcement provides transparency around the usage of the power but also confidence with the community that they are being engaged with.”

The Met issued a lengthy statement ahead of last month’s Notting Hill Carnival to explain why an S60 would be in place for the duration of the event in North London.

Notting Hill Carnival Gold Commander Dave Musker said the use of a S60 would “provide reassurance to communities that we are constantly working to keep them safe”.

Police Scotland confirmed a S60 was in place across its Greater Glasgow Division on 14 September but said it would not comment on operational matters.

The local authority decision to halt parades in Glasgow was taken after violence in Govan on 30 August after counter-protesters clashed with police and Irish Republican marchers.