Security for the climate summit in Glasgow this year may cost more than £200 million, according to Police Scotland.
A report was presented to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board at the end of last week, which highlighted that security at the event could be expected to cost several hundred million pounds.
Since the meeting, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has announced that upwards of £200 million is a good estimate of what it will cost for police to secure the United Nations (UN) conference in the city.
The summit will be the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will bring 200 world leaders to Scotland in November. The event is considered to be the most important conference on the climate crisis since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend the conference. Alongside these numbers, police believe that a climate change march set to take place during the summit could attract up to 500,000 further people.
It has been widely stated that the significance and size of the conference justifies the cost of police security.
However, police are insisting that the cost of the climate conference should not leave the service in Scotland out of pocket. Police officers from across the UK will be brought to Scotland to assist the force in securing the event. Estimates made at the SPA meeting suggested that the cost of housing the out of town officers could be tens of millions of pounds.
Acting chairman of the authority, David Crichton, said that the current number of officers in Scotland was “not sustainable” and that the Scottish Police Authority has been raising concerns about financial sustainability over the past several months.
Crichton said: “There is a structural deficit in the policing budget. It’s simple arithmetic, it’s not complicated mathematics, it’s simple arithmetic.
“With almost 90% of the budget allocated to officer and staff costs, it does mean that difficult choices are going to have to be made over the next weeks and months – difficult choices by government, by the authority and by Police Scotland.”
The UK government has committed to cover core costs but has not yet agreed with the Scottish government’s call for the UK to fund the entire cost of police. Scottish ministers are insisting that all costs regarding COP26 be financed by the UK government to ensure the event is safe and successful.
Spokespeople from core political parties such as Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Liberal Democrats have agreed that the Scotland police force should not bear the brunt of the policing costs and that the Scottish and UK government’s need to come to an agreement re financing the event.
The UN climate summit will be held at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow from 9-19 November.