FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to intervene to stop “over the top” policing of climate protests at COP26.

Environmental campaigners have claimed that there have been “numerous incidents” of abuse of power tactics by officers from forces all over the UK.

Around 10,000 officers a day have been deployed on the streets of Glasgow for the duration of the summit.

Activists have sent an open letter to the First Minister asking her to intervene to ensure the right to protest is upheld ahead of a mass climate march on Saturday, expected to draw in thousands and spark other protests across the country.

READ MORE: COP26: Boris Johnson's forest deal 'unfair' says Indonesian minister

Police Scotland have said they will provide a "proportionate policing response" to any protest.

They added that officers from across the UK are under the command of Police Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone and will operate along with their procedures. 

The letter was released by COP26 Coalition, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and the Climate Coalition on Thursday.

It reads: "The disproportionately high number of officers deployed, combined with intrusive police surveillance has created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

"Police are reportedly filming campaigners, listening in to conversations, unlawfully demanding personal details, and even on one occasion followed a group all the way to accommodation in Edinburgh, even when there was clearly no protest taking place.

The National:

The letter was sent after protestors were kettled by officers in Glasgow

"One campaigner was stopped for ‘talking to people and walking too fast’, another for ‘acting surreptitiously’."

Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland on behalf of COP26 Coalition, said: "We are alarmed and deeply concerned about the approach the police are taking to peaceful protest around COP26.

“As we hurtle ever closer to climate catastrophe and negotiators determine the fate of billions around the world it is absolutely vital that civil society movements from Scotland, the UK and around the world are able to make their voices heard on the streets of Glasgow.

The National:

The scale of policing has been raised as a concern by protestors

“Yet police are using intimidatory tactics and abusing their powers to stifle the fundamental right to peaceful protest.

“From the rent strikes here in Glasgow to women's suffrage and civil rights movements around the world, protest has played a vital role in pushing politicians to make the right decisions.

“As we stare planetary emergency in the face, that role is needed now more than ever."

Ben Margolis, Interim Director at The Climate Coalition, added: “It’s incredibly worrying to see over-the-top policing at these climate talks.

READ MORE: COP26: More than 40 countries to phase out coal but not China or US

“The vast majority of people in the UK are now concerned about climate change, which is why more of us - from kids to grandparents and everyone in between - are taking action to hold governments to account.

“The right to protest is a marker of a free, democratic society. Nicola Sturgeon and the police in Scotland need to safeguard the right to protest and protect the rights of the young people, vulnerable and disabled people who are standing up against climate change.”

The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on Saturday 6th November will involve very large numbers of protesters on the streets in Glasgow.

The National:

Thousands of officers from across the UK have been drafted in 

Those who signed the letter are calling on Sturgeon to ensure all police forces operating in Scotland commit to a number of requests.

These include protection over increased restrictions for protestors, no routine surveillance of protestors, no excessive use of force and no targeting of organisers for arrest, surveillnce and punishment.

The group also said people of colour have been facing disproportionately excessive and violence interventions by police, called for no abuse of stop and search powers and no targeting of vulnerable young and disabled people.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: “On Wednesday, we engaged with protest groups as they moved through the city centre.

"A group was contained for a short period in the St Vincent Street and Renfield Street area and a plan was then put in place to allow protestors to move to Lancefield Quay near the island site accompanied by a protected escort cordon.

“It was necessary to do this in order to maintain public safety, to keep protestors away from oncoming traffic and to allow vehicles to safely pass the procession.

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“We liaised with protest groups to understand what they wanted and to facilitate their requests as far as reasonably possible, balancing their right to protest against potential community impact and safety.

“We will provide a proportionate policing response to any protest and it is therefore extremely disappointing that officers were assaulted by having paint sprayed in their faces."

He added that officers have a right to do their job and that five people were arrested at the protest.

The National:

Ritchie added: "All mutual aid officers are under the command and control of Police Scotland's Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone, and will operate in line with our policies and procedures.

"They have received detailed briefings on the style and tone of policing which will be friendly, fair, accessible and accommodating."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government is fully supportive of the right to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner, and welcomes all contributions on how, together, we tackle the climate emergency.

"Police Scotland has engaged with a wide range of activist groups in advance of the conference in order to facilitate and support their right to peaceful protest.”