COP26 - impact on justice system: summary report

Summary report on daily data collected by justice organisations to monitor the impact of COP26 on the wider justice system in Scotland.


The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November 2021.

This short report investigates the result that the conference had on Scotland’s justice system as a whole.

COP26 resulted in[1]:

  • over 40,000 visitors to the city
  • 128 world leaders
  • 25-day policing operation
  • over 10,000 police officers deployed on some days

Impact of COP26 on the Scottish justice system

In addition to the unprecedented scale of the policing operation, there was significant planning across other areas of the justice system to deal with the extra business that an event of this scale could potentially produce.

Across Scotland, summary trials in the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace courts did not take place from 25 October to 12 November, as a result of police officers not being available for witness duty. In addition, Sheriff and Jury trials did not take place for a two-week period from 1 November to 12 November. High court trials continued as usual but business was temporarily moved from Glasgow to other locations in Scotland.

In anticipation of additional need:

  • extra custody courts were provided across the country, including weekend courts in key locations
  • the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) provided extra resources for the marking of cases

In total there were 97 COP26 related arrests made by the police over the course of the conference[2].

As of 22 March 2022, 46 of those arrested had been reported to COPFS, twelve of those were reported from custody[3].

Of the 46 people reported to COPFS[4]:

  • 28 had no further action taken
  • 2 were issued with a fiscal fine
  • 6 were marked for summary proceedings
  • 8 were marked for solemn proceedings
  • 2 are awaiting marking

Of the 14 people who were to be proceeded against in court[5]:

  • one was not convicted
  • one was fined
  • one was given a custodial sentence
  • the remaining 11 cases are ongoing


As shown above there were 97 arrests and 46 reports to COPFS resulting from COP26. This is much lower than might have been expected, given the  potential for unrest an event of the scale and nature of COP26 presented. The potential for a substantial increase in business was recognised by justice organisations across Scotland and significant effort was made to prepare for and minimise the impact of COP26 across the justice system (and other sectors). It is likely that this level of preparedness and multi-agency working contributed, in no small part, to ensuring that disruption to the day-to-day running of justice organisations (downstream of Police Scotland) was minimal.


[3] Source: COPFS Management Information

[4] As of 22 March 2022

[5] As of 22 March 2022

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