Police Scotland have set up a Brexit response team amid concerns exiting the EU could leave the country vulnerable to criminality.
Officers are working with counterparts from across the UK over contingencies which may have to be put in place if Scotland can no longer rely on the co-operation of Europol and the help of the European Arrest Warrant.
Appearing before the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) yesterday, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said there was “great concern” about the movement of criminals across Europe.
Mr Livingstone also denied a recent media report that Police Scotland is preparing to cut officer numbers due to budget pressures, saying 120 new recruits would join the force in the coming weeks.
Asked about the impact of Brexit, he said: “There will be consequences. Clearly, if we’re going to move from Europe, there will be changes to the movement of people and that inevitably will have implications for policing.
“There will be implications for policing across the UK as a whole, but there will be some specifics for Scotland.”
It remains unclear what relationship UK police forces will have with Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, once Britain leaves the union.
Mr Livingstone said his force may have to look at bilateral arrangements with forces in key partner countries such as Spain and the Netherlands.
He said: “There have been initiatives such as the European Arrest Warrant and our ability to share intelligence through Europol.
“The political context is extremely dynamic and we need to remain attuned to that. We’re not just sitting wondering what will happen, we’re developing contingency plans to address some of the issues that may be a consequence of exit.”
Responding to a question from SPA chair Andrew Flanagan about negative media coverage surrounding the national force in recent weeks, Mr Livingstone said: “There’s been a suggestion Police Scotland is not recruiting – I’d like to make it categorically clear that is not the case.
“In fact, we’ve got 120 new officers starting in September. We undoubtedly have a focus on cost and spend.”
The Scottish Police Federation has mounted a campaign in recent weeks to highlight the scale of the cuts.
Examples have included officers having to supply their own light bulbs and claims drug dealers are not being investigated due to a ban on overtime.