One of Scotland's top police chiefs has warned that inflammatory language used by politicians in the Brexit debate is makes it more difficult for officers to "police the environment" as tensions heighten.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr of Police Scotland issued an appeal for a more "temperate and peaceful" approach from all sides of the debate, as he appeared before MSPs today.
It came came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under fire from opposition politicians over his use of the term "Surrender Bill" to refer to opposition Brexit legislation amid claims from female MPs that they felt in danger over the use of aggressive language.
DCC Kerr was appearing before Holyrood's justice committee today to set out Brexit contingency planning taking place in the force.
But he told MSPs that the country was in a rapidly changing environment, adding: "Words and behaviour matter."
He said: "The importance of of temperate and responsible language from those in positions of civic leadership, from politicians from anybody who has a degree of leadership responsibility across Government and wider cannot be overstated.
"People are entitled to express strongly held views and there are a range of obviously strongly held views on this issue.
"Police Scotland will protect that right to express those strongly held views, but they must be expressed peacefully and lawfully.
"Certainly some of the issues we've seen recently with the language being used makes it more difficult to police the environment and I think it's very important that we have an open and transparent debate."