Steve Johnson: Police Scotland will be ready for Brexit

Policing must be ready for the challenges of leaving the EU
Policing must be ready for the challenges of leaving the EU
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Local policing is at the heart of Police Scotland’s activity.

Police officers and staff work around the clock to keep communities safe, responding to incidents as they happen and anticipating where the next emerging issue may come from.

The international dimension has had an increasingly significant part to play in local policing as crime evolves with the world around it.

We live in communities that are ever more connected with each other on a global level; where technology means at the touch of a button information can transfer faster than the blink of an eye and distance is no barrier to partnerships, relationships and entrepreneurial endeavour.

In the right hands it’s a powerfully positive platform.

However there are those who seek to exploit that connectedness to further criminality.

That’s why from a policing perspective, it’s critical that we understand fully the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the EU in terms of the potential impact on our ability to protect the public and keep communities as safe as they can be.

Our core task is to protect the public – that means here but also around the world.

The focal point for this is through the innovative multi-agency approach at the Scottish Crime Campus (SCC) at Gartcosh in Lanarkshire.

Key to the internationally recognised success of the SCC has been the exchange of information and intelligence with other nations.

This is achieved through close working relationships with institutions such as Europol and Interpol.

The importance of this approach can be seen on a daily basis through the exponential rise of cyber-crime.

Police Scotland has made significant investment in our ability to combat this, creating a state of the art hub which engages with colleagues internationally, keeping skills and knowledge as up to date as possible.

The EU referendum vote brought into focus a number of areas where previous arrangements would need to be considered to ensure that we could continue to operate with our colleagues in Europe to combat serious organised crime and terrorism.

It would be remiss for us not to start thinking through what the implications are and what we might need to do differently in order to maintain levels of protection and crime prevention for our communities.

We have established a team with extensive experience in this area to engage with stakeholders and scrutinise each process as it stands, looking at logistics, processes and practice.

This will allow us to articulate the risks, threats and opportunities and with this knowledge start to model contingencies and alternative methods.

There has been speculation that Brexit could impact negatively on how we protect the public.

However since nothing has been decided by ways of a timeline or what may change, it is proportionate and sensible that what we do is prepare. Our preparations will mean that if and when changes are considered or implemented we will have completed the work required and continue carrying out our core task of protecting the public.

It should be noted that Police Scotland are not negotiators in this set of unique circumstances; but we bear responsibility to provide those who are with the information that will allow them to make the best decisions for us all.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson has responsibility for organised crime and counter terrorism within Police Scotland