Police Scotland claim 'not in public interest' to release Rangers celebration policing discussions

Discussions around policing tactics ahead of the weekend thousands of fans took to the streets celebrating Rangers’ title win have been deemed “not in the public interest” by Police Scotland, it can be revealed.

Nicola Sturgeon condemned crowds of fans gathering in Glasgow following Rangers' victory (Photo: PA).

The police force said correspondence between Rangers Football Club, Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and senior officers would be kept secret due to concerns releasing it would “compromise operational policing”.

Scenes of thousands of Rangers fans taking to the streets of Glasgow on the weekend of March 6 and 7 were condemned by politicians with the behaviour of fans labelled “disgraceful” by senior police officers in the aftermath.

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John Scott QC, a leading lawyer, was commissioned to undertake a review of the policing approach by Police Scotland and found officers had acted proportionately.

The approach taken by police had been criticised by the SNP MSP Sandra White who claimed the approach had failed to protect the public after Chief Constable Iain Livingstone insisted the police took “appropriate steps” to manage the crowds.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf also labelled the scenes “shameful”.

However, the decision to keep the discussions between the main stakeholders involved in the policing of the weekend secret was heavily criticised by opposition politicians.

Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur said the public “deserve to see how these decisions were arrived at” and whether the Scottish Government or Glasgow City Council “sought to influence them”.

He said: “Under the SNP the default seems to be to keep discussion under wraps.

"There is obviously huge public concern over the decisions taken about the policing of title celebrations, especially when the light touch approach is contrasted with that taken by the police in regard to the Sarah Everard protests.

In the aftermath of the celebrations Police Scotland claimed requests to Rangers to tell fans to go home were ignored by the club, with Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham ‘strongly condemning’ the “lack of support” from the football club.

Responding, the club claimed they “initiated open dialogue with key stakeholders” including Mr Yousaf, the Scottish Government, the SPFL, and Police Scotland around the implications of a league title.

However, Police Scotland officials said the details of these discussions. if published, would provide criminals with knowledge of key policing methods and would harm the ability of individuals to discuss plans due to a fear of having their opinions made public.

Reacting, Scottish Labour justice spokesperson Neil Bibby said the correspondence should be released in the interests of transparency.

He said: "There has been much finger pointing by the SNP Government about who should have been done more. This correspondence should be released so we can have full transparency and so the public can have confidence that similar scenes will not occur again.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "This is a matter for Police Scotland, not the SNP or the Scottish Government - and both Labour and the Lib Dems are making themselves look foolish by attacking the police in this way.

"If the police feel that certain things should remain confidential in order to protect the integrity of operational policing then they should be able to do so without politicians looking to impugn the integrity of senior officers like this.

"Liam McArthur and Neil Bibby's comments are disgraceful, and they should apologise to the police for trying to suggest they have acted in any way improperly."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We would not release information which would compromise operational policing and provide those intent on committing offences with details of how events may be policed.”

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