Armed police at polling stations as voters brave poor weather

Voters across the country today withstood poor weather conditions and heightened security to have their say in the General Election.
Picture:  Greg MacveanPicture:  Greg Macvean
Picture: Greg Macvean

Armed police were stationed outside some polling stations across the country, such as the Lothian Chambers venue in Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge, where there were four officers in attendance.

Police Scotland said armed response vehicles were sited across a number of locations, with armed officers visiting some stations, such as Craigie Church Hall in Perth.

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However, the police presence at the vast majority of stations across the country was restricted to uniformed officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said the police presence evident across polling stations would also be in place as counting venues throughout the country.

The escalation in the number of armed response vehicles on duty, Mr Higgins said, would continue until the “early part of next week,” but he stressed the increased deployment of officers was designed to reassurance members of the public.

With armed officers also part of the policing operation for this evening’s Robbie Williams concert in Edinburgh, as well the Scotland versus England football match in Glasgow, Mr Higgins emphasised there was “absolutely no intelligence” to suggest the events were at threat of attack.

He added: “Over the last couple of days, and continuing on into the early part of next week, we have more than double the number of armed response vehicles on duty. “Again, that’s not based on any intelligence or any specific threat - the armed officers are there for your protection and your safety, and more importantly your reassurance. “

It comes as party leaders across Scotland and the rest of the UK were among those casting their votes.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by her husband, Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive, at their polling station in Glasgow.

Ms Sturgeon said she was “feeling good” as she arrived to vote at Broomhouse Community Hall in the east end of Glasgow amid heavy rain.

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She gave a thumbs-up to about a dozen waiting photographers shortly after 9am before going inside the hall.

Afterwards, the couple met Glasgow East SNP candidate David Linden and briefly spoke to other voters arriving at the polling station in the city’s Baillieston Road

Asked how she was feeling after an intense campaign, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m feeling good. We’re focused today on getting out the vote.

“Voting SNP is the only way to ensure strong voices for Scotland, so I’m feeling good and hoping the weather improves as well.”

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, was also seen giving the thumbs-up as she voted at the Wilson Memorial Church in the east of Edinburgh.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was accompanied by her partner Jen Wilson and dog Wilson to vote at the Cafe Camino venue in central Edinburgh.

Asked how she was feeling, Ms Davidson, whose party is hoping to make gains in areas including the Borders and north-east Scotland, said she “always gets nervous on election days”.

She added: “I hope everyone gets out and votes.”

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie voted in Kelty in Fife while Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie cast his ballot in Glasgow.

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Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May greeted reporters and photographers with a single word of “hello” as she arrived with husband Philip to vote at Sonning guide and scout hut on the outskirts of Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Fathers’ rights protester Bobby Smith, from Stevenage, demonstrated outside the polling station accompanied by his mother Sheila Doyle-Smith, 59, who was dressed as Elmo. Mr Smith stood against David Cameron in the 2015 General Election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn greeted reporters as he arrived at Pakeman Primary School in Holloway, north London, to cast his vote.

He smiled, waved and spoke to voters, before telling of his pride in Labour’s campaign when he emerged from the polling station.

He told the press gathered outside: “Thank you very much, all of you, for coming here today. It’s a day of our democracy. I’ve just voted. I’m very proud of our campaign. Thank you very much.”