COP26: Forth Valley police ‘well prepared’ for any protests

Forth Valley police are “well prepared” to deal with any disruption and protests that might happen around the forthcoming climate change conference in Glasgow.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 11th October 2021, 4:09 pm

Chief Superintendent Alan Gibson says that for most people in the Falkirk area it will be “business as usual”, despite the arrival of more than 100 world leaders in Glasgow for the Conference of the Parties, known as COP26

However, he told members of Falkirk Council’s scrutiny committee, it would be naive not to expect any kind of protests – particularly around the petro-chemical complex in Grangemouth, which has already seen Extinction Rebellion demonstrations this year.

But he was keen to emphasise that day-to-day policing in the Falkirk area would not be affected between October 31 and November 12 this year.

Extinction Rebellion Scotland blockade at Ineos refinery at Grangemouth (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

All leave and all training have been cancelled and some ‘non-critical’ back office function will also be stood down for the duration of the event, while police will not be expected to attend summary court in a bid to keep numbers at maximum.

Meanwhile, specialist officers from around the UK will be in Scotland to support the operation.

Chief Superintendent Gibson said the event is probably the “single biggest policing operation in the history of the UK” and certainly the largest and most complex he had seen in 27 years in the police.

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He told councillors: “I would imagine that what you would wish me to give you is the comfort that Falkirk communities are not going to be detrimented during COP26 and I can give you that assurance today.”

He added that the Police will do their best to facilitate peaceful protest, but they had to strike a balance with that and the rights of people to go about their business as normally as possible.

He added: “We won’t tolerate unlawful or violence disorder protests and we have no intelligence today to suggest that’s going to occur, either in Glasgow or in the Falkirk area.

“But it would be naive to not suspect that the facility at Grangemouth would not attract some element of protest, whether peaceful or not, and we’re well prepared for anything that might occur.”

While there will be no major road closures in Forth Valley, he said there may be temporary measures as VIPs would be either staying in the area or travelling through.

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