Police Scotland reactivates Brexit contingency plan

Scotland’s national police force has reactivated its contingency plans to deal with any social unrest caused by Brexit, with 300 extra officers on stand-by to deal with potential flash points such as protests or disruption at ports.

Police Scotland will have 300 officers on stand-by to deal with potential social unrest caused by Brexit. Picture: John Devlin

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr has written to the Scottish Police Authority to inform them officers will be available from early August across the country, while others will work in a control room at Bilston Glen in Midlothian.

While on standby the officers will also support other Police Scotland operations across the country during what is expected to be a busy summer for the constabulary.

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Justice secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed what he described as “a prudent, sensible approach to contingency planning to ensure Police Scotland remains best-placed to keep people safe”. But the SNP minister warned that the UK was not ready for a possible no deal Brexit on October 31.

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Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister, has repeatedly indicated the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal before November.

Police Scotland originally revealed its Brexit contingency plans in March, but they were withdrawn when a Brexit extension was agreed between Brussels and Westminster.

DCC Kerr said: “We put our original plans in place from 18 March but we then stood officers down on 12 May following the extension of Article 50 until 31 October, with a view to reactivation in mid-October.

“While not responding to Brexit-related issues during that time, these officers played a critical role in allowing us to police many significant events, such as major football games and public protests. They were also deployed to local policing duties such as high-risk missing person cases, investigating priority warrants and assisting with the police response to high profile crimes.

“We have now decided on an early reactivation of our Brexit contingency plans because we have been experiencing an unprecedented number of large scale events, some of which are taking place at extremely short notice, for example, recent environmental protest activity in the North Sea and Edinburgh.

“This type of continued activity will have a significant impact on an already demanding summer period and having these officers available will give us an enhanced capacity to respond to greater policing demands. Our principle focus is, and will remain, the safety of the citizens of Scotland.”

Mr Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is carefully considering the implications of leaving the EU and intensive preparation is underway, including our work with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland.

“The reality is the UK is not, and cannot be, ready for a ‘no deal’ EU exit on 31 October – such an outcome would inevitably cause very significant disruption to the lives of ordinary citizens and businesses, as well as long-term harm to our economy.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to ensure this is avoided by taking ‘no deal’ off the table, while working on preparing for all eventualities.

“The Scottish Government has also been clear that any costs related to EU exit should not have a detrimental impact on Scotland’s public finances and should be met by the UK Government in full.”