Police Scotland has warned that cancelling plans to cut 300 officer posts due to Brexit will put “significant pressure” on its budget.
The national force had planned to save £12.6 million by reducing officer numbers in 2019-20.
But it postponed the plan earlier this month, saying it would “not be appropriate” amid security concerns posed by Britain’s exit from the EU.
In an update sent to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Police Scotland said it would have to “explore options” across the organisation to make savings elsewhere.
It said: “The three-year financial plan assumes a cost-saving equivalent to a 300-officer reduction across the entirety of 2019-20.
“As a result of operational planning for Brexit, the March 2019 officer intake was brought forward to February and there is the potential for further intakes.
“This will place a significant pressure on the revenue budget in 2019-20.
“As the detailed work involved in formulating a proposed budget for 2019-20 continues, Police Scotland will be exploring options across the organisation to deliver the required savings to compensate for this pressure.
“However, there is a significant risk that the budget will show a deficit in excess of that previously committed to in the current three-year financial plan.”
Senior officers are expected to provide an update on Police Scotland’s Brexit planning at the SPA board meeting in Kilmarnock tomorrow.
In December, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), which represents the rank and file, warned Police Scotland needed up to an additional 900 officers to maintain public safety during Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has said his officers are on stand-by to provide support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) should Police Scotland receive a so-called mutual aid request after Brexit. Mr Livingstone told the SPA board in November that planning for the effects of EU withdrawal was an “extremely dynamic and fast-moving” process. He said an initial assessment had predicted delays for people and goods at airports and ports.
Mr Livingstone said there were likely to be “mutual aid requests” from other forces.
One scenario Mr Livingstone’s officers have been preparing for is food shortages after Brexit.
Deputy Chief Officer David Page has previously said the “very substantial reduction” in capital would lower morale and undermine attempts to defeat organised crime. Holyrood’s justice sub-committee convener John Finnie said earlier this month: “Rank and file and senior officers alike are telling us that the police service in Scotland is not being given the money it needs.”