A pilot to introduce buffer zones to prevent anti-abortion protests directly outside health facilities could be run in Glasgow.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said the local authority was ready to be a pioneer in tackling the issue.

At a summit chaired by Nicola Sturgeon today, it was put forward that a byelaw should be used in the short-term to tackle the issues outside centres including the Sandyford Clinic and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

READ MORE: John Mason SNP MSP accused of 'spreading misinformation' over abortion services

The First Minister said that national legislation is the long-term aim but that it had to be ensured it was robust to withstand any potential human rights challenge.

Aitken said: “The council took a clear policy position on buffer zones back in 2018 – when the kind of action we are now seeing become an issue at Sandyford was very much anticipated, but not yet taking place.

“With cross-party support, we backed the creation of protected spaces around reproductive health care premises; in order to shield patients from intimidation and harassment.

“Since then, legal advice has been that councils do not have the necessary powers to make that happen, so I really welcome the fact the Scottish Government is ready to work with local government to overcome those barriers.

“Assuming that is possible, Glasgow would be ready to pioneer the approach in Scotland.”

READ MORE: Catholic Bishops issue statement on abortion as Nicola Sturgeon chairs buffer zone summit

The summit was convened and chaired by the First Minister who said it had to be ensured that women can “access services without fear, harassment or intimidation”.

Sturgeon said the long-term solution is to introduce national legislation, though she said there was a need to get the balance right for such action to withstand challenges from European human rights legislation, which she said would be “inevitable”.

She said there was “work to be done” over short-term solutions with local councils working with the Scottish Government in exploring the use of local byelaws.

Politicians across parties and campaigners welcomed the renewed aim of putting laws in place to prevent protests directly outside facilities.

Back Off Scotland, which is in favour of buffer zones, said: “Everyone at today’s summit was in agreement - we need buffer zones. And we need to work together collaboratively to get there.”

The First Minister said the meeting on improving access to abortion services had been “constructive” and “helpful”.

Representatives from local government, third sector organisations, Police Scotland, the NHS and campaigners were brought together, in addition to cross-party representation.