Brexit policing bill must be covered by Westminster in full, says Humza Yousaf

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has demanded the UK Government pick up the tab in full for the cost of Brexit on Scotland’s police force.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone, the country’s most senior police officer, has already warned leaving the European Union could result in staffing costs totalling £18 million.

He spoke after Mr Livingstone said “reasonable worst-case scenario” planning for the UK’s European departure would mean 400 Scottish officers being deployed on Brexit duty.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are 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.”

Police Scotland has brought forward the 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.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are carefully considering the implications of leaving the EU and intensive preparation is under way, including work with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland, who are responsible for operational policing decisions.

“We remain committed to protecting the police revenue budget in real terms in every year of this Parliament, delivering an additional £100 million over that period.

“However, the UK Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit remains a significant threat to our public services.”

He spoke out after new figures showed the number of police in Scotland fell over the course of 2018.

At the end of the year, Scotland had 17,175 full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers – a rise of 27 over the quarter but 81 less than there were in December 2017.

Overall, Scotland has 941 FTE officers more than in March 2007, just before the SNP came to power.

The Justice Secretary said: “Police officer numbers in Scotland remain significantly above the level in 2007, with an increase of over 900 since March 2007 – this contrasts with a reduction of almost 20,000 officers in England and Wales.

“Scotland’s single police service means communities across the country now benefit from specialist national and regional expertise.

“This includes police officers and staff in various divisions who are deployed across Scotland when local needs arise.”