Police in Scotland have apologized after single women were forced to walk through a park in complete darkness following roadblocks in connection with COP26 in Glasgow.
Dozens of women said they feared for their safety as some were sent on a 90-minute diversion despite being only a few meters from their destination.
One woman said the walk left her in “tears” while another claimed a police officer offered to escort a single woman through the park while calling her ‘darling’ and ‘treasure’.
US President Joe Biden and other world leaders went to the Kelvingrove Museum last night for a COP26 reception hosted by Prince Charles on behalf of the royal family after the first day of negotiations at the climate summit.
A ring of steel was erected around the area, but police refused to install walkways so local residents could reach their homes, and instead led women, children and elderly residents through the park.
One woman said, “I felt very crying as I walked through the park. We were told there was a heavy police presence inside, but that was not true.
“A police officer was actually very abrupt and talked about arresting people who were trying to get home because they got a lot of people complaining. It was not a good experience, especially when the conversation is about women’s safety.
“Kelvingrove Park should be informed at all times. There was no consultation on these reorganisations in place while the dinner was going on. The police and council should do more than apologize quite frankly.”
Another woman said: “My sister was forced to walk through the park. She usually never puts her legs in it at night, and despite knowing the area well, she was pretty lost, especially when she found gates that were closed when she reached them and had to go back in.
“It seems like a pretty unacceptable planning oversight that this became a big distraction. When I knew the park’s reputation, I was clearly not the only woman on the phone who heard about this.”
Eilidh Paterson was forced to take a detour to get to his home in Partick.
She said: “As women, we are constantly told to avoid the park at night.
“That it is dark, unsafe, and that it is part of the blame for us if something happened to us that went through it.
“Being told by the police that our only option last night was to walk through the place we are always asked to avoid, I felt extremely insecure and vulnerable.
“All because we could not cross the road to go home. All for a fancy dinner.
“Is my safety less important than someone having a good dinner?”
Scotland police said the move followed “real-time changes to operational plans Monday night” and apologized for the concerns.
Another wrote on Twitter: “Wow, residents of Finnieston on the north side of the street who live on the south side of the street are asked to walk through Kelvingrove, down Byres Road to Patrick and then back to Finnieston to get to their apartment 100 meters away. It’s dark. “
Another said: “I know that £ COP26 is a major logistical challenge, but I have just heard that women on foot are being redirected on their own and instructed to walk through Kelvingrove Park alone in pitch black because Argyle St / Dumbarton Rd is closed? Not sure.
“It is commuters on everyday journeys who have had to change their routes due to disruptions.
“Sounds like the plans need to be reconsidered. It’s getting dark sooner. The park is not an alternative option after dark.”
Annie Wells, a Tory MSP for Glasgow, said: “My heart goes out to the women who have expressed their distress over feeling insecure about going home at night.
“Women’s safety can under no circumstances be compromised.
“It is completely unacceptable for people to feel scared because they are being forced to go through potentially dangerous routes in the carbon black.
“I urge Police Scotland and the local council to act immediately so that no one is forced down poorly lit paths where they fear for their safety.”
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 Monday night.
“While late changes and some degree of disruption are inevitable when it comes to politicizing an event the size and scale of COP26, we understand and apologize for the concern these changes posed and for the inconvenience to those who were redirected.
“We recognize and acknowledge in particular the comment from some women who had to walk through the park on their own last night, we want to keep everyone safe and we know it is our responsibility to acknowledge when we could provide some more support and visibility to reassure people in our communities.
“The redirection 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 at establishing additional patrols in the area to provide security.
“We will work with Glasgow City Council to consider whether the lighting in Kelvingrove Park can be improved.”
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “We have worked very hard to let people know about the restrictions that are in place for the Climate Change Conference so that they can plan ahead and circumvent security measures.
“For operational reasons on the spot, Police Scotland changed the diversions at short notice last night (Monday 1 November) and led members of the public through Kelvingrove Park. Scotland Police have apologized for the concern and inconvenience caused by these changes at the last minute.
“We had identified an alternative route on the back of the original restrictions via the park to reduce the impact on the public with four additional light rigs installed, and we understand that members of the public may have taken other routes that we could not have predicted.
“We do everything we can to ensure that residents and businesses are notified of restrictions in good time. Every time we are notified of changes, they are posted on social media as they were last night. The Get Ready Glasgow website is also updated regularly. “
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