Recommendations to improve how marches and parades are planned and organised across Scotland have been published.
The Short Life Working Group on Processions in Scotland was set up following a pledge by the First Minister last year to consider if an approach similar to that taken in Northern Ireland should be adopted here. The report aims to strike a balance between protecting the rights of those who seek to march or protest and those in communities affected by such events.
The independent working group of experts recommends that a national parades’ commission is not necessary in the context in Scotland, as improvements could be best handled by local partners.
A further 17 recommendations put forward by the working group include:
- Improving the notification process around marches – ensuring relevant information is available for communities
- Improving the facilitation and regulation of processions by making sure people’s human rights continue to be upheld
- Reducing the need for public order policing
Key partners, including the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council, Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland, COSLA and human rights experts will now come together to consider the report recommendations and agree the best way forward.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Keith Brown said:
“Marching, parading and protesting is of great importance to many people in Scotland for cultural, community and political reasons.
“The Scottish Government fully recognises this and is committed to freedom of speech and to upholding the human rights of those seeking to participate in such events. But in doing this we must also ensure that the rights of those seeking to go about their business undisturbed are also protected. As such, a balance must be struck between protecting the rights of those who seek to march or protest and those of the communities impacted by such events.
“I am very grateful to the Working Group for their dedication and hard work in developing their report and recommendations, as well as to everyone who took the time to speak with group to give their experiences and expertise.
“We will continue to hold meaningful and productive dialogue with march and parade organisers, community representatives, Police Scotland and local authorities to ensure that, collectively, we continue to work towards achieving the correct balance of right for all.”
Chair of the working group Dominic Bryan, said:
“Members of the working group were impressed with much of the work already undertaken by local authorities in sometimes challenging circumstances.
“We believe that our recommendations will offer a sustainable way forward for the facilitation and regulation of processions in Scotland reflecting important human rights considerations.”
Commenting on the launch of the report, SCSN Chief Officer Lorraine Gillies said,
“The SCSN was pleased to have participated in the Marches & Parades Working Group and welcomes this new report.
We believe the recommendations will support safer communities & enhance work already progressing across Scotland.
We’re happy to see this work continuing and we will continue to be involved.
The 18 recommendations are printed in full on page 3 of the Report of the Short Life Working Group on Processions in Scotland.