In November 2021, the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) arrived in Glasgow. Through ‘Operation Urram’ (Gaelic for ‘respect’), Police Scotland promised to put 10,000 police officers on duty every day, and it’s public relations campaign promised a “human rights-based approach” to the policing of protests.
Our report “Respect or Repression? An independent report on Operation Urram (Respect), the policing of the COP26 Conference in Scotland” exposes systemic abuses of power from Police Scotland throughout the COP26 Climate conference. Police Scotland then lied to the public, to campaigners, and to Scottish Police Authority about their actions. We conclude therefore, that Police Scotland not only failed to protect human rights during their policing of COP26, but in many cases actively hindered or violated human rights.
Co-produced by Netpol and the Article 11 Trust, the report tells a shocking story – one of intimidation, harassment and police violence which left Glasgow immersed in two weeks of chaos. We’re calling for an urgent independent enquiry into Operation ‘Urram’, Police Scotland’s false and misleading public statements, and an immediate review of the use of “Section 20” in relation to protest policing as a ‘blanket’ stop and search, arrest and containment power.
Drawing from 120 witness statements from campaigners, members of the public and legal observers, the report highlight several key areas of concern. These are:
- Kettling. On several occasions, people were detained for up to 5 hours in police ‘kettles‘ without access to food, water, medication or toilets.
- Stop and Search. Stop and search was used as an intelligence gathering tool and intimidation tactic, and officers made widespread use of ‘Section 20’ to justify stops despite legal “confusion” around this power.
- Misuse of police powers. Mutual Aid officers from England and Wales appeared confused about their powers under Scots Law, and Police Scotland repeatedly gave incorrect or misleading information to justify their actions.
- Discriminatory and aggressive policing. Racial profiling and the excessive use of force was reported to us multiple times, with campaigners complaining they were punched, kicked, shoved and hit by police officers while being searched or detained, and one young woman reported being “groped” by an officer while caught in a police kettle.
- Surveillance and harassment. Campaigners and members of the public reported intrusive and intimidating surveillance, with people followed, filmed and unlawfully harassed to give personal details to the police.
In putting this report together, Netpol and the Article 11 Trust would like to thank the Scottish Community and Activist Legal Project, COP26 Coalition, Not one Rogue Cop, Green and Black Cross, Extinction Rebellion Arrest and Legal Support, as well everyone who sent in individual testimony.