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Glaswegians show support for Police Scotland’s policing approach to COP26

Published : 21/12/2021 12:11:46

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) commissioned independent, representative public polling of over 1000 citizens in the Greater Glasgow area to provide us with additional evidence on public views, attitudes and insights into what residents thought of their police service’s approach over this period of very visible and intense policing in their city.

The key findings from the survey conducted in November 2021 are:

  • 60% of respondents supported the policing approach of Police Scotland during COP26
  • Women were more supportive than men at 61% compared to 58%
  • 77% thought that policing campaigners and protestors at events like COP26 was a difficult challenge for the police
  • 63% thought Police Scotland had performed well in making sure marches and protests during conference were well organised
  • 65% said Police Scotland had done well in making sure that those on marches and protests were allowed to make their voices heard
  • 56% thought Police Scotland had done well to limit any additional disruption caused by peaceful but unlawful protest tactics such as road blocking
  • Only 3% of respondents had direct experience of participation in events, protests or marches related to COP26

Tom Halpin, Chair of the SPA’s COP26 Oversight Group said: “The Authority gave its full support to the thoughtful rights based approach taken by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland to the policing of COP26 in November. The policing of this huge global event was the result of very many months of careful planning and preparation by Police Scotland and also with the Authority. The insights from this polling suggest that the public in Glasgow supported the approach which is welcomed.”

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “Policing COP was an unprecedented challenge – and, from a city perspective, the impact on the day-to-day safety of our communities was every bit as important as the security of VIPs and managing protests.  The fact that a strong majority of people across the region clearly believe all of those competing demands were managed well is another indication of how successfully Glasgow performed as host of one of the world’s biggest events.”

Police Scotland’s approach sought to deliver a safe and secure event for over 100 international Heads of State, all delegates, participants, visitors and the people of Glasgow.  The Service also aimed to actively facilitate the right of individuals to peaceful protest and demonstration and continue delivery of effective and responsive policing across the whole of Scotland during the event.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “COP26 was held safely and securely and the conference was able to consider the vital issue of climate change. Police Scotland led one of the largest ever UK policing operations and we consistently demonstrated our commitment to upholding people’s human rights. There was no significant violence, disorder or damage, no serious injuries and relatively few arrests. I am grateful to everyone who played their part in ensuring a friendly and welcoming atmosphere”.

Across the questions asked, up to a quarter of respondents answered either don’t know or have no view. When the responses of those who expressed a view are analysed the support levels are higher.

This representative sample of people living in the Greater Glasgow area found that 80% of those respondents who expressed an opinion supported the policing approach taken during COP26. Support was greatest in the over 65 age group at 92% and remained high at 60% in the 16-34 age group. In general women were more supportive of the approach at 84% with men at 75%.

The survey also sought views on the key aims of the policing operation; 84% of respondents who expressed a view thought Police Scotland did very well or well in delivering a safe conference for the people of Glasgow and 89% thought the same was true in delivering a safe conference for outside visitors.

When asked about the efforts Police Scotland made to limit the additional disruption caused by peaceful but unlawful protest tactics, such as road blocking, 68% of respondents who expressed an opinion thought this had been done very well or well with 74% of women supporting this view compared to 63% of men who expressed a view.

When asked about balancing the competing interests, 66% of those who expressed a view strongly agreed or agreed that the policing approach recognised the range of interest involved and finally 85% strongly agreed or agreed that policing campaigners and protestors at events like COP26 was a difficult challenge for the police.

A more detailed report on the survey results, is available on the SPA website.  This survey work builds on, and enhances, the current Police Scotland survey on policing of events

The SPA will continue to poll public confidence in, and support for, Police Scotland and the wider justice system over the coming months and these reports will be made available of the Authority’s website.  


Notes to Editors:

  • The polling of Glasgow citizens was delivered by The Diffley Partnership in November 2021 using the ScotPulse Public Opinion Survey.
  • Mutual aid provision from across the UK saw up to 8,000 additional officers deployed in Scotland during the event.