Cop26: Police Scotland warn protesters not to block M8

Cop26 protesters who try to block the M8 during the climate change conference in Glasgow will be removed, Police Scotland warned today.

However, the force stressed it would adopt a “fair, friendly and accommodating" approach to protests at the event and any officers from the rest of the UK drafted in to help who didn’t follow suit would be sent home.

An unprecedented number of officers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part to provide 40 per cent of the total policing operation, which will see 10,000 officers on duty daily.

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Assistant Chief Constable Bernie Higgins, who is in charge of policing the two-week conference in November, said any protest on the M8 motorway – which runs through Glasgow city centre – would be stopped for safety reasons.

Police Scotland any M8 blockade would be removed for the safety of protesters and motorists. Picture: Robert Perry

He said it could endanger the lives of both protesters and drivers.

He told a webinar hosted by the Scottish Police Authority: “It could cause collisions further back and then effectively bring the whole of the Scottish road network to a standstill.

"If there was non-violent direct action of that nature, then we will remove protesters because we cannot have the threat that poses to themselves, to motorists and the wider Scottish network.

"I wouldn’t use the term ‘drag them away’ – that’s not something we would do.

The United Nations conference at the SEC is expected to one of the biggest events to be policed in the UK. Picture: John Devlin

"We would engage with them and ask them to get up and leave, and then if they refused we have techniques which safely removes the protesters and would allow us to re-open the road.”

Mr Higgins also said he would not tolerate officers from other UK forces assisting with policing Cop26 under “mutual aid” arrangements who did not follow Scotland’s “policing by consent” approach.

Police breached "fundamental rights" at a London vigil for Sarah Everard and "Kill the Bill" protests in Bristol, MPs concluded in June.

Mr Higgins said: "Our policing style and tone is about friendly engagement.”

He said forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland sending officers had been told; “When you come to Scotland, this is the style you are going to adopt.

"Our fundamental approach here is facilitation, it’s engagement, it’s fair and friendly and it’s a no surprise approach.

"We are already engaging with protest groups to tell them this is how it’s policed in Police Scotland.

"This is what we are insisting, not asking – that mutual aid officers that come here sign up to the way we do policing and they comply, and they sign up to our code of ethics, and they sign up to the fact that we police with fairness, integrity and respect.

"If it transpires that any officer from any particular force – and I’m not going to single out the Metropolitan Police or Devon and Cornwall – on mutual aid that doesn’t conform to the standard of professional practice that we are requiring of them, then they will no longer be part of this deployment and they will be returned to their home force”.

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Mr Higgins said the police was also planning for protests in other parts of Scotland.

He said: “We have a strategic reserve which is going to be very flexible and able to be deployed at short notice.

"Not all the Cop26 assets are going to be based in Glasgow.

"They are strategically placed around the country to reflect the fact there will be lots of Cop26 events happening outwith the Glasgow area.”

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