Brexit policing costs in Scotland should be met by Treasury, say SNP

The Treasury should foot the bill for Police Scotland’s Brexit planning costs, the SNP have said.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone has said “reasonable worst-case scenario” planning for the UK leaving the EU means 400 of his officers being deployed on Brexit duty.

He has brought forward recruitment of 100 officers and ditched plans to cut numbers by 300 – costing a possible £18 million – to have sufficient strength to deal with possible public disorder and disruption at ports following the UK’s exit from the bloc.

Rona Mackay
Rona Mackay

The SNP have called on the Treasury to pay out, pointing out Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU.

SNP MSP Rona Mackay, deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, said: “The reality of the Brexit situation we face is becoming increasingly apparent – with Scotland’s chief constable clear in his professional assessment of what extra pressures will fall upon Police Scotland.

“It’s important that he’s planning for the worst-case scenario since, regrettably, that’s the brink that the Tories seem to be dragging us closer towards.

“The risk of disorder, disruption at ports and airports, and the need for Scottish police officers to be redeployed to help forces elsewhere, are outcomes becoming all too possible in the event of a no-deal.”

She added: “But this is not a mess of Scotland’s making. We voted Remain, we voted for stability and security in Europe and it’s a situation created by the Tory government against our express will.

“On that basis, it’s only fair that the Treasury foots the bill for all contingency costs incurred by Police Scotland.

“Police forces in the rest of the UK have had extra funding in these circumstances and Scotland should be treated no differently.

“Ultimately, the vital work Police Scotland does to keep our communities safe should not be jeopardised by the additional pressures of a Tory Brexit, which we have stood firmly against at every turn.”

Earlier this week, Mr Livingston called for the necessary contingency funding to be made available, pointing out the UK Government has given around £17 million additional cash to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as well as money to some forces in England to tackle the issue.

He warned if no extra cash is received it could threaten the financial stability of Police Scotland.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with the Scottish Government on EU exit plans and have so far given them £92 million to support Brexit preparations for all scenarios.

“It is for the Scottish Government to decide whether any of this extra funding should be allocated to Police Scotland.”