This page explains the systems in place for Legal Support in Scotland during COP26 and is subject to updates and minor modifications.
SCALP (the Scottish Community and Activist Legal Project) is a collective of activists from social and environmental justice groups in Scotland who are collaborating on community and activist legal support. More about SCALP.
During COP26 we are working to ensure everyone who takes part in a demonstration, action, or just has to live with increased policing during those two weeks, has access to legal support.
What legal support is in place for COP?
All of our legal support systems are running from 28th Oct – 15th November. We are anticipating to be reacting to a certain number of protests that we haven’t heard about, but if you would like to ensure that there is legal support at an action you are organising, you can message SCALP on signal at +44773 405 1230. We won’t share details beyond the Legal Observer coordinator for that day.
Bustcards are small cards with key information about your legal rights, our Legal Back Office number and the number to contact a team of trusted solicitors, who understand why we protest and protest law.
The recommended solicitor to call on the bustcard is the phone number for Clare Ryan’s solicitor firm. SCALP and Clare Ryan have collaborated to put together a pool of trusted solicitors. Calling this number will lead to being in contact with someone on this team.
SCALP has released bustcards for COP26. Make sure you have one on you if you are going to a demonstration. You can also write these numbers on your arm in case you lose the card.
In the case of arrest, you will be asked by the police if you want anyone notified, make this the Legal Back Office number. Don’t accept a duty solicitor, give the police the solicitor’s name and number on the bustcard (if you lose your bustcard, you can just tell them to call Clare Ryan). Please note, you don’t get to make these calls yourself, the police will do it for you.
We are working on translations of these bustcards and they will be available on the bustcard page.
Every day during COP26 we will have teams of Legal Observers on the streets. Legal Observers wear orange high vis and take notes of policing and police tactics. They ensure the police are monitored and this goes some way to help curb police abuse.
Legal Observers will also have bustcards to hand out on demonstrations.
In the case of arrests, Legal Observers will attempt to note down information about who has been arrested and try to find out where they are being taken. They will log this with the Legal Back Office so that people can be supported through the arrest and court process.
SCALP Legal Back Office
From 8am on 28th Oct, to midnight 15th Nov, we will be running a 24 hour Legal Back Office phone line:
0131 322 5322
This number is primarily for notifying our back office team of arrests, and taking calls from Police Stations once someone has been arrested.
Please note: this is NOT a hotline to call for legal advice or guidance.
You can call this number if you are worried about someone you think has been arrested, but try to keep it as free as possible for emergency situations. Please note, in most circumstances we will not give out personal details about arrestees to people who phone the Legal Back Office.
We will have a team of people working around the clock to track arrests, which police station people are being taken to and passing information on to our Police Station Support team.
If you witness an arrest, you can also log it yourself at arrestwatch.scot and our team will pick it up.
Police Station Support
If arrests have been logged to our Legal Back Office by Legal Observers, fellow activists or members of the public, our Police Station Support team will work to ensure that when that person is released from the Police Station they are met by friendly volunteers with snacks, water and funds to support them to get back to their accommodation.
We aim to ensure that all Police Stations holding arrestees are covered by supporters but may not not always be successful. Occasionally, supporters are unable to cover all the exits of a station: arrestees are advised to look for other exits if there appears to be no support. If there’s no support, arrestees are invited to ring the Legal Back Office for assistance on 0131 322 5322.
After being released, arrestees should fill in the release form so that the Legal Back Office team know the person is free and can stop tracking and providing support.
If you are able to be involved please sign up to join the Police Station Support teams across Scotland. There is a map of Scottish Police Stations where we may need Police Station Support volunteers and a Guide to Police Station Support.
At the moment, due to COVID, members of the public are not allowed into the public gallery in Scottish Courts. Although we can’t be inside the court with you, we aim to support you as much as possible with the court process. If you’re taken to court from police custody this support will probably be through your solicitor.
If you are involved in a court process after being released we aim to support you through the process with information and solidarity.
Concerning police behaviour or abuse of power
If you are subject to or witness any police behaviour which you are concerned about, try and stay calm, take shoulder numbers of police (and what force they are from), ask them ‘Under what power’ they are operating, and write that down. Remember ‘No Comment’ and if you are with a friend, stick together. Soon after, write an account of what happened, which can be useful for later submitting a complaint. Let SCALP and NetPol know: firstname.lastname@example.org & COP26Policing@protonmail.com
Any interactions with the police can be stressful and traumatic, take care of one another and check in with someone you trust during and after any incident.
We have run many Know Your Rights trainings over the last few months and we have one more on Tuesday 26th October at 7pm. Registration is free.
If you have questions about protest law in Scotland or your rights, chances are it will be covered in one of our guides. Our collective will be very busy during the two weeks of COP26 and may not be able to respond to all the questions we receive so please check out our resources before contacting us.
Watch our 5 minute video with key Know Your Rights Information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKBH_fMI3BA
A couple more guides will be being released on our resources page over the coming days.
If you still need to ask for information you can contact us on email@example.com
Actions outside of Glasgow
Our Back Office will cover all of Scotland. If you are planning an action outside of Glasgow, we ask that you try to secure your own Legal Observers and Police Station support if possible.
If you are using our Back Office you can create a Signal group for Police Station Support and send us the link, or get your volunteers to sign up here so that we can can notify them of any arrests.
If that is not possible please let us know with as much notice as possible and we will work to provide Legal Observers and Police Station Support for actions taking place elsewhere in Scotland.
We are committed to making legal support structures accessible to participation of those from all financial backgrounds, and SCALP’s expense policy exists to make that possible within our limited capacity. Where it’s needed, volunteers can be reimbursed for expenses incurred whilst volunteering with SCALP during COP26 such as for certain travel, taxi fares, food, drinks, phone credit, etc.
This is especially relevant for those doing Police Station Support and who are buying things for people who have been arrested to give to them upon release. Please keep your receipts and see our expenses policy and the expenses report form where you can claim expenses after COP26.
- We are currently signing up people across Scotland to do police station support.
- Please share this page on social media, in your affinity groups and with any organisers you know who might be taking action in Scotland during COP26.
- To support us financially, you can donate to our crowdfund or via paypal for one-off or monthly donations.