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Police Scotland managed Cop26 response with £13m underspend

Papers have been presented to the Scottish Police Authority which showed that the cost of policing the event was £13m below the original budget.

The climate conference took place between October 31 and November 13 last year and saw tens of thousands of people visit the city. 

The policing response was allocated a total spend of £158.6 million - made up of £66.8 million approved by the Cop26 Unit’s Spend Approval Board, £54.7 million in mutual aid and £37 million of accommodation costs - which were directly met by the UK government. 

97 people were arrested during the event and the force received 27 complaints. 

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr, who co-ordinated the response, said the low arrest and complaints numbers reflected what the force wanted.

He said: “Compare that to the size and scale of operations in London or elsewhere. That’s a very, very small number of arrests and again reflected what we wanted which was the friendly accommodating and facilitative style of policing with respect to the rights of people.

Since the event, officers have shared practice with officers in the United States and Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has said that World Cup organisers are “keen” to see the work being done in Scotland. 

DCC Kerr said: “There’s been a very significant amount of interest on two broad issues in policing in Scotland. One is how we run a big operation from a consistent and unambiguously rights based perspective and two: what’s the style of policing, what’s the de-escalation techniques?

“There’s a very significant amount of interest and we’re able to serve more of that through the International Academy.”

During the event, there were two incidents of “containment” that the force were criticised for. They have however been defended as being in the interest of public safety. 

DCC Kerr said: “We did a very significant debrief after both of those two occasions where we had to use containment but we had to use public safety grounds and I’m more than satisfied I haven’t looked in detail at both of those occasions but the tactic was absolutely appropriately and proportionately applied by Mark Hargreaves and the tactical commanders on the ground.

“It was necessary for the purpose of public safety particularly when you have a smaller number of protests that are causing a greater public safety risk. We are obliged and we have a duty to step in on those occasions.”


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