Climate change conference will be largest ever police mobilisation

The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this year will lead to the largest ever mobilisation of police officers in the UK.

Feb 18, 2020
By Tony Thompson

More than 40,000 people, including 200 world leaders, are expected to attend the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November and Police Scotland will draft in officers from across the country for the summit under mutual aid arrangements.

The cost of policing the event has been estimated at around £250 million. The Scottish government expects the UK parliament to cover the “core costs”, including emergency services funding to ensure the budget of Police Scotland does not suffer.

By comparison, the cost of policing the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles was £72 million while the security bill for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games was £90 million.

Extinction Rebellion protests in London in April and October 2019 cost the Metropolitan Police Service more than £24 million.

Costs for the Glasgow event are especially high as a large number of activists are expected to descend on the city. Tensions ran high at COP25 in Madrid last year, which featured a speech by Greta Thunberg but saw many climate change activists barred from entering the venue.

The £250 million figure appears in a paper due to go before the Scottish Police Authority on Wednesday (February 19), which also outlines a number of other concerns surrounding the event.

These include the lack of clarity on policing what is a UN event hosted by the UK Government. Control of the conference centre will be handed over to the UN during the duration of the event and become international territory, subject to international law. There are ongoing discussions about how Police Scotland will investigate any crimes that occur at the venue during this time.

According to STV, the COP26 paper states: “The UK Government have been advised of the indicative policing costs which are estimated to be £250 million.

“The UK Government have been provided with a high-level breakdown of these costs which are presented on the basis that there will be no financial detriment to the Scottish policing budget.

“In the absence of assured planning assumptions, these figures are based on reasonable worst-case scenario assumptions and will remain indicative and will be subject to internal validation and independent security and financial assurance work between now and March 2020.”

The paper also references specific concerns about COP26 and the political tension between Holyrood and Westminster stating that: “Police Scotland remains concerned about the current lack of governance coordination between governments, and the lack of clarity on agreed outcomes for this event”.

The financial implications of policing COP26 will be discussed at a meeting of the Justice Sub Committee on February 20.

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