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Policing bill for climate change talks could be ‘many tens of millions’

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About 30,000 delegates are expected to attend the COP26 event at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow in November 2020.

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The policing bill for a major climate change summit to be held in Glasgow next year could amount to “many tens of millions of pounds”, Police Scotland has warned.

It was announced on Tuesday that the United Nations had chosen Scotland’s largest city to host the COP26 event in November 2020.

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will bring about 30,000 delegates to the city’s Scottish Event Campus.

It will be the largest summit the UK has held, with up to 200 world leaders expected for the final weekend of talks.

While planning for the event is only at an “embryonic stage”, David Page, the deputy chief officer for Police Scotland said it would require an “incredibly large and complex policing operation”.

Police Scotland will call on Scottish ministers to seek additional funds from the UK Government to help with the costs – with the force insisting the bill cannot be met from its “core budget”.

Mr Page said: “We would make representations to the Scottish Government to seek funding from the UK Government for funding the policing operation, but it would obviously put a strain on Police Scotland.”

Police Scotland
Police Scotland spent millions policing the visit of US President Donald Trump (Jane Barlow/PA)

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Meanwhile the force’s chief financial officer James Gray said he expected the costs of policing the summit to be significantly higher than the total spent when US President Donald Trump visited Scotland in 2018.

He told MSPs on Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on policing: “The conference in November 2020, the planning for that is embryonic, so I wouldn’t want to put a figure on it because we haven’t done the detailed work.

“But I would suspect it will run into very many tens of millions of pounds.

“If you look at the visit from the president of the United States that took place, that had a cost in the region of £4 million to £5 million.

“Our experience has been when things like that happen and we engage with the Scottish Government they have been responsive to our requests and have worked with the UK Government in order to secure the funding, in the way in which we secured funding for the visit of the president of the United States.

“So we have already started conversations with officials in the Scottish Government  around our expectation, because of the size and scale of this, it cannot be funded from our core budget.”

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