Police apologise after Cop26 diversions force women to walk through park at night

One woman could see her flat but police reportedly told her to take an hour-long detour

Lamiat Sabin
Tuesday 02 November 2021 16:22
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Police have apologised after women were forced to walk through a park in Glasgow at night while roads were cordoned off during a VIP reception for heads of state attending Cop26.

Diversions were in place around Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum on Monday evening as world leaders and members of the Royal Family gathered for the welcoming reception on the first day of the climate change summit.

A number of local residents said on social media that they were forced to take long detours through the dark Kelvingrove Park to get home.

One person told how they had come across a young student in tears because she had to walk through the park alone while a man was “following her”.

She said: “We were sent away from one exit to the main gate, then told we had to do exactly that detour to get to Partick.

“On the way found a first-year student in tears because she was in the same position and had had a man following her through the dark path; a male police officer.”

According to Glasgow Times, a woman was denied access to her flat that was just meters away but was told by police to walk an hour-long detour.

She said: “I could literally see my flat but I was told I couldn’t get through so I had to walk through the park. It was pitch black, some people were using their phone lights and police forces who did not know the area weren’t able to advise on how to get back safely.

“After everything in the news over the past few months and warnings to women not to walk alone through unlit parks, we were allowed no choice.”

Kayleigh Quinn tweeted: “Wow, Finnieston residents currently on the north side of the street who live on the south side of the street being told to walk through Kelvingrove, down Byres Road to Partick and then back to Finnieston to get to their flat 100 yards away. It’s dark. #COP26”

Twitter user Miss Private copied in Glasgow City Council, tweeting: “We understand shutting down Kelvin way for #Cop26 but being made to walk through #kelvingrove park in darkness is not safe.”

Another Twitter user with the name Abbie said that she walked through Kelvingrove Park on her own in the dark last night.

She added: “All the police they’d got from England have no clue about the area so [they’re] responding to lone women asking them for directions around the cordon with ‘idk [I don’t know] sorry just walk around and find out.”

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she has “concerns” over the reports of women having to walk through the dark park.

Officers from Police Scotland apologised for the situation.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: “Residents were diverted on their way home, including on foot through Kelvingrove Park, following real-time changes to operational plans on Monday night.

“While late changes and some level of disruption is inevitable when policing an event the size and scale of Cop26, we understand and apologise for the concern these changes caused and for the inconvenience to those diverted.

“We do, in particular, recognise and acknowledge the commentary from some women who had to walk through the park on their own last night, we want to keep everyone safe and we know that the onus is on us to recognise when we could provide some more support and visibility to reassure people in our communities.

“The diversion is no longer in place and there are no plans to reintroduce it. Should further diversions be required at short notice for operational purposes, we will look to establish additional patrols in the area to provide reassurance.

“We will work with Glasgow City Council to consider whether lighting in Kelvingrove Park can be improved.”

The Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow, Annie Wells MSP, urged police and the council to ensure it does not happen again.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said they have been working to let people know about the restrictions that are in place.

The spokesman said: “For on the ground, operational reasons, Police Scotland changed the diversions at short notice last night and diverted members of the public through Kelvingrove Park.

“Police Scotland has apologised for the concern and inconvenience caused by these last-minute changes.

“We’d identified an alternative route on the back of the original restrictions via the park to lessen the impact on the public with four additional lighting rigs installed and we understand that members of the public might have taken other routes that we couldn’t have predicted.

“We make every effort to make sure that residents and businesses are told about restrictions well in advance.

“Whenever we are notified of changes they are posted on social media, as they were last night.

“The Get Ready Glasgow website is also regularly updated.”

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