Police Scotland re-activates no-deal Brexit plans

Police Scotland has “reactivated” its contingency plans to deal with any social unrest resulting from Brexit, with an extra 300 officers on standby to deal with potential flashpoints, such as protests or disruption at ports.

Jul 5, 2019
By Tony Thompson

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr has written to the Scottish Police Authority to inform it that officers will be available from early August across the country, while others will work in a control centre at Bilston Glen in Midlothian.

While on standby, the officers will also support other Police Scotland operations during what is expected to be a busy summer for the force.

Mr Kerr said: “We put our original plans in place from March 18, but we then stood officers down on May 12 following the extension of Article 50 until October 31, with a view to reactivation in mid-October.

“While not responding to Brexit-related issues during that time, these officers played a critical role in allowing us to police many significant events, such as major football games and public protests. They were also deployed to local policing duties such as high-risk missing person cases, investigating priority warrants and assisting with the police response to high-profile crimes.

“We have now decided on an early reactivation of our Brexit contingency plans because we have been experiencing an unprecedented number of large-scale events, some of which are taking place at extremely short notice, for example, recent environmental protest activity in the North Sea and Edinburgh.

“This type of continued activity will have a significant impact on an already demanding summer period and having these officers available will give us an enhanced capacity to respond to greater policing demands. Our principle focus is, and will remain, the safety of the citizens of Scotland.”

Officers will now be notified of changes to their shifts. They will be drawn from local and national divisions and from back-office functions.

The multi-agency control centre at Bilston Glen will be used to help coordinate the response to any issues arising from the impact of Brexit on behalf of Scotland’s three Regional Resilience Partnerships, which include local authorities, emergency services and other public sector bodies.

A statement by Police Scotland said contingency planning was being carried out in conjunction with other forces across the UK and is based on identifying and responding to the reasonable worst-case scenarios that may be faced in the event of a no-deal exit.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed what he described as “a prudent, sensible approach to contingency planning to ensure Police Scotland remains best-placed to keep people safe”, but the SNP minister warned that the UK was not ready for a possible no-deal Brexit on October 31.

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