Scottish ministers refuse to say how COP26 policing costs will be paid

Both the UK and the Scottish governments are refusing to clarify how the costs associated with policing COP26, set to be held in Glasgow in November, will be met.

Official arrangements on how this will happen and whether the cost will be met by the Scottish Government or the UK Government have been agreed, papers from the Scottish Police Authority state.

A report from the authority’s COP26 Oversight Group states there have been reassurances the negotiations between the Cabinet Office, the Scottish Government and “other partners” had progressed.

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Arrangements for how the policing bill for COP26 is going to be met are being kept secret.

It adds that a “memorandum of understanding” has been agreed, but when both governments were asked what the details of the agreement are, both refused to comment with the UK Government claiming the memorandum was not a “public document”.

The costs of policing the United Nation’s climate change conference have been estimated to be as high as £250 million by the Scottish Police Authority.

The Scottish Government said it had made clear to the UK Government that all costs “will be borne” by Westminster. The UK Government has separately said it had worked closely with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland to “ensure that maximum value for money is achieved for the taxpayer”.

However, the secrecy around the exact arrangements has led to calls for enhanced transparency around the issue from opposition politicians.

Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens’ justice spokesperson, said: “All aspects of policing the COP will rightly face significant scrutiny, including the costs. It would be much better for all concerned if government adopted an upfront and transparent approach to this issue.”

Scottish Lib Dems justice spokesperson Liam McArthur said: "Both of Scotland's governments need to be clear about who is picking up the tab for policing COP26.

"Scottish Liberal Democrats have said it before and will say it again, until the government understands that. The public deserves to know how its tax money is being spent."

At a visit to Police Scotland’s Tulliallan training college in Fife, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK Government would cover the cost of policing the conference.

Following the meeting with Chief Constable Iain Livingstone on August 4 in Fife, Boris Johnson said: “We are totally committed to funding the police and to making sure that they have the resources that they need to do what’s necessary.”

Mr Livingstone added: “We outlined the fact that there’s going to be significant financial cost and, right from the outset of planning for COP26, I was very clear that there could be no detriment to Police Scotland in terms of funding because if there was a detriment to Police Scotland, that would mean there was a detriment to the people of Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has made clear directly to its UK counterparts the expectation that all costs arising from the decision to hold COP26 in Glasgow will be borne by the UK Government. This includes funding for police, fire and ambulance services which are essential to both prepare for and deliver a safe, secure and successful event.

A UK Government spokesperson added: "The UK Government has agreed to cover the cost of policing for COP26 and has worked closely with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government to ensure that maximum value for money is achieved for the taxpayer."

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