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750 officers to be deployed to safeguard major Orange parade

POLICE officers will be taken off duty from as far afield as Stirling, Fife and Edinburgh to be deployed at next weekend's major Orange Order march in Glasgow, the first big parade in Scotland since the creation of the national force.

MARCHING SEASON: Next Saturday will see 57 Orange Order marches across Glasgow. Picture: Stewart Attwood
MARCHING SEASON: Next Saturday will see 57 Orange Order marches across Glasgow. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Almost 750 officers will be committed to the city's streets to police the annual Boyne Celebrations, with rest days also cancelled to control the event.

There will be 57 parades through Glasgow next Saturday, as about 4500 members of the Protestant Orange Order and tens of thousands of supporters gather in the city for the organisation's biggest event outside of Northern Ireland.

It is estimated the cost of policing the event will be more than £500,000 despite the Orange Order using its own members to steward the parade and police numbers being cut back in recent years.

Details of the policing operation have emerged as Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland move to prevent another smaller loyalist band parade taking place that morning before joining the main County Grand Orange Lodge of Glasgow parade.

The Black Skull Corps of Fifes and Drums had applied to the council for permission to parade from the east end to Glasgow Cathedral to mark the anniversary of the band's first engagement in marching from the site of the former Orange Order headquarters.

They have undertaken this procession since 2002 and had applied for about 30 people to take part in the 20-minute procession before 9am.

But Police Scotland said the march would put extra pressure on its already stretched resources and has lodged objections to the city council to the procession taking place. The council's report into the matter states: "Their concerns were that the parade would place an excessive burden on Police Scotland by reason of the extent of resources required to contain the risks associated with such parades, combined with the police resources required across the force to police the Glasgow Annual Boyne Event, while retaining the ability to maintain front line policing services. In discussion, it was indicated that Police Scotland will require to commit 734 officers to police the Annual Boyne Celebration.

"This can only be achieved by bringing in officers from outwith the Glasgow area (Edinburgh, Stirling and Fife), cancelling rest days and extracting police officers from other duties. These resources are wholly committed to facilitating the Boyne parades and no provision has been made to support this particular parade."

It adds that the march organisers were told that "a consistent line was being taken in relation to all procession notifications submitted by bands to march on their own behalf on 6 July" and "no other band within Glasgow was undertaking a separate parade on that day".

According to the report, the Black Skull march organiser, William Faulds, said: "The general feeling within our band is that they wish to proceed with the application for the following reasons: It is an anniversary parade, and holding it on another date would reduce the overall significance of what this parade actually means to our membership. We have held the parade annually since July 6, 2002 without any problems or concerns about public safety being raised by the police."

The council said that while all processions cause some delay or disruption and place a burden on police resources, the day and timing of the Black Skull march would "exacerbate these concerns and, accordingly, it is appropriate to seek to place proportionate restrictions on the procession to seek to mitigate the impact".

The authority also claimed there was "no compelling reason for this procession to take place on the date submitted for" and is to move against the parade taking place at a meeting on Tuesday.

A spokesman said: "Our policy and code of conduct asks organisers to approach parades like any other major event in the city centre – and ensure they are well planned and delivered. This process also gives our officers the opportunity to engage with groups at a very early stage and play a role in that planning, which they use to try and minimise disruption to the wider life of the city."

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