UK Police Vow to Tackle Protesters ‘Swiftly’ During UN Climate Meeting

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
October 15, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

Protesters who attempt to block roads during the UN climate conference in Glasgow will be dealt with “swiftly and robustly,” a senior Scottish police officer has warned.

This year’s UN climate conference, also known as COP26, is due to take place in the Scottish city of Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 and is expected to attract climate activists from around the world.

Will Kerr, deputy chief constable of Police Scotland, said the force is “ready and well prepared” to deliver the security operation around the event, which he said “will involve one of the biggest mobilisation of police assets the UK has ever seen.”

Kerr said Police Scotland will provide “a proportionate policing response to any protests,” and has been engaging with known protest groups for some time.

“Those wishing to protest have a responsibility to do so within the law and I would remind the small minority of people who may be intent on violent disorder or causing damage that we will deal with them swiftly and robustly,” he warned.

“If someone is causing significant disruption by wilfully obstructing a main traffic route, then officers may move through the various stages of our graduated response more quickly than they would during instances which are causing minimum disruption,” he said.

Insulate Britain, a climate campaign group that has been demanding that the government insulate all homes across the UK to cut carbon emissions, has repeatedly shut down motorways and other key transport links.

Over the past five weeks, activists from the group have blocked roads in England on 14 days, with activists often gluing their hands to the carriageway to increase the length of time it takes for police to remove them.

The group said on Thursday that it was suspending their protests until Oct. 25, a week before COP26 is due to begin, but will resume their actions if Prime Minister Boris Johnson fails to issue a “trustworthy statement” about what actions he would take.

To ensure security, about 10,000 officers will be deployed each day during the meeting, and Police Scotland will be supported by a substantial number of police officers from other UK police services.

Police Scotland said officers from other parts of the UK will “receive detailed briefings on the style and tone of policing ahead of being deployed.”

Kerr said contingencies are in place to deal with additional pressures on services during COP26 and said he could “reassure the public that if they need an emergency response from us they will get it.”

PA contributed to this report.