Police Scotland is planning for up to 400 officers to be deployed to deal with the consequences of Brexit, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has said.
He warned the additional police needed could threaten the financial stability of the force and he called for extra funding to be made available, as has been allocated elsewhere in the UK.
Speaking at a board meeting of police oversight body the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Mr Livingstone said contingency plans are in place based on a “reasonable worst case scenario” for the UK leaving the EU.
He said this could include public disorder, disruption at ports and airports in Scotland, and the need for Police Scotland officers to be deployed elsewhere in the UK under mutual aid agreements, likely to Northern Ireland.
He confirmed moves to recruit around 100 extra officers to deal with the issue and scrapping plans to cut 300 police, which had been expected to save £12.6 million.
The savings were part of a drive to reduce the SPA’s deficit, which stood at £34 million last year.
The Chief Constable has decided to bring forward recruitment of more than 100 police officers in this financial year to ensure capacity and resilience is in place for the UK leaving the EU.
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) January 30, 2019
Questioned if the 400 officers would be applied “specifically to Brexit”, Mr Livingstone confirmed they would.
But he warned: “The financial sustainability that we need to establish will be threatened by some of the operational decisions I need to make around Brexit.
“There is a significant risk that without additional funding, the budget will result in a larger deficit than previously stated if officer numbers are retained at current levels.
“In this regard, it is important to publicly underline that the consequences of Brexit have not yet led to necessary additional funding being allocated to Scottish policing.
“My key priority will remain ensuring the citizens of Scotland are effectively protected, policed and kept secure.
“I understand UK Treasury funding has been made available to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in regard to their Brexit contingency funding, to policing and law enforcement in England and Wales.”
He outlined “concerns about the lack of additional resource”, in light of the “demanding plan” to eliminate the deficit by 2021.
He added: “While we remain focused on building a sustainable, financially disciplined service going forward, there is real acute imminent pressure on policing at the moment and I would really welcome some additional funding as some of my chief constable colleagues in other parts of the UK have already benefited from.”
.#SPABoard asks SPA Chief Executive to write to Scottish Government & set out resource implications for @policescotland on #Brexit & case for equity of approach to other parts of UK on additional funding.
— The SPA (@ScotPolAuth) January 30, 2019
SPA chairwoman Susan Deacon said her organisation shares his concerns and will write to the Scottish Government to quantify the funding required.
She said the letter will stress the “hope and belief that it would be possible for additional contingency funding to be made available” either from either the Scottish or UK Government.
She added: “These provisions have been put in place in others parts of the UK and I think it is not unreasonable that we should look for the equivalent here.”
In December, the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said up to 900 more police were needed in Scotland to cope with Brexit.