Senior police officer praises ‘non-contentious’ relations with Cop26 protesters

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More than 100,000 people marched through Glasgow on Saturday, organisers say (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)
More than 100,000 people marched through Glasgow on Saturday, organisers say (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Wire)

The relationship between police and protesters has been “non-contentious” in the first week of Cop26, a senior police officer has said.

Fewer than 50 arrests have been made since the Glasgow summit started last weekend, including during marches on Friday and Saturday which attracted 25,000 and 100,000 people respectively, according to organisers.

Police Scotland said before the conference they would facilitate peaceful protest throughout, and Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said he hoped the atmosphere continued into the final week.

Some 21 arrests were made during the Saturday rally, which also saw a group of protesters blocked in a “kettle” operation in the city centre.

“For such a highly significant event, to reach the end of the first week with fewer than 50 arrests being made is testament to the fact the relationship between protesters and the police has been largely non-contentious,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Despite today being a rest day at the conference, Police Scotland has, once again, engaged positively with protest organisers and attendees at a number of events across Glasgow, with minimum disruption to the wider community.

“As you’ll no doubt know, Police Scotland has spent more than 18 months preparing for Cop26, and a great deal of effort has gone into ensuring our policing plan is robust but reactive, but also welcoming, while balancing the right to protest with the rights of our communities.”

Officers from across the country have been sent to Glasgow to police the event, which brought more than 100 world leaders to Scotland’s biggest city last week.

Mr Ritchie added: “All of our work is underpinned by human rights and a great deal of effort has been taken to ensure our response to Cop26-related incidents and events is necessary and proportionate, and that our ethos and values of integrity, fairness and respect is shared by both our own officers and our mutual aid colleagues who have travelled to Scotland from across the UK to support us.

“This event has already provided us with some unique challenges, but our officers and staff have risen to face them, and the broadly good nature of the members of the public we are interacting with has made this a widely positive experience.

“I very much hope this atmosphere continues into the second week ahead of Cop26 coming to its conclusion next weekend.”

Watch: Cop26: Protesters dress up as world leaders for tea-party performance during Fridays for Future march

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