ALMOST 150 Scottish police officers with just three weeks’ training were deployed as a last resort during the COP26 climate summit, it has emerged.

Police Scotland confirmed the probationers, who were just a quarter of the way through their training, were used to help police the event in Glasgow and support other parts of the force.

One female probationer claimed she was abused and spat at by a man resisting arrest who was later found to be carrying a knife.

She was also called to a sudden death, despite lacking the appropriate training for it.

The deployment is reported today in the social affairs magazine 1919.

Deputy chief officer David Page, who oversees staffing at Police Scotland, said probationers had been used before for “major policing operations”, including at the outset of the Covid pandemic.

However one senior police officer told the magazine using raw recruits on the front line showed resources were at “rock bottom”.

The Scottish Police Federation, which represents the force’s 17,000 frontline officers, also said it was a measure “nobody would choose” if it could possibly be avoided.

COP26, which saw more than 30,000 delegates congregate at Glasgow’s SEC in the first half of November, was the biggest policing operation in Scottish history.

Although probationary officers usually receive 12 weeks of training before deployment, after being assessed for COP26 work, 140 were sent out paired with a senior officer.

The female probationer told 1919: “We had stopped someone which was initially a drugs search and he actually had a knife on him. That was a bit of a worry because it was just the two of us that were there. He was resisting arrest, spitting, being abusive, but that’s the only aggressive person I’ve come across so far.”

On the sudden death call, she added: “I had never seen a dead body so that was my biggest worry. You usually get an opportunity to go to the mortuary to prepare yourself for it, so that was my biggest thing to deal with.”

Her senior officer added: “I’ve got 15 years in the job and I’ve been a tutor for seven or eight years, and it’s only really when resources are rock bottom [this happens].

“She and a lot of others have just been punted out after three weeks and the only thing they know about the law is their common sense.”

Scottish Police Federation chairman David Hamilton said: “Nobody would choose for officers with just three weeks’ training to be deployed in an operational environment. This however is policing in 21st century Scotland, where we simply can’t afford not to use every resource that we have.

“I was surprised to meet a number of these probationers at COP26 as they were only ever meant to be backfilling in ‘business-as-usual’ – but they were being well looked after by their colleagues and I’m sure will have picked up some important skills and experiences.

“However, I suspect those who were working in ‘business-as-usual’ will have had the biggest shock and hope that the volume of demand, lack of resources and danger they face every day doesn’t discourage them from returning to finish their training.”

Tory MSP Jamie Greene said: “There is no doubt that years of SNP neglect after they merged Scotland’s police forces contributed to under-trained staff having to be deployed to the frontline during COP26 – and clearly this must never become the norm.

“Hundreds of frontline officers have been lost from Scotland’s streets since the SNP’s centralisation – and they have consistently short-changed them on funding for equipment too. This mistreatment of our police has to stop.”

Mr Page said: “We utilised 140 probationers undergoing officer training with Police Scotland during the COP26 policing operation. The majority were sent to our local policing divisions and departments around the country and were tasked with assisting business as usual, while others were deployed to work specifically at COP26.

“This is not the first instance of deploying probationers to assist with major policing operations, as a number of probationers were deployed last year to assist in the early stages of our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“They had all received instruction in core policing skills, first aid and officer safety training prior to being deployed, and the skillset and readiness of each officer was taken into account.

“They were accompanied on deployment by experienced officers.

“The officers who were deployed will return to the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan later this month and will complete the remaining weeks of their training.”