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Police Scotland to reactivate Brexit contingency plans more than two months early

Friday July 5th 2019 at 10:30 AM

Police Scotland will reactivate its Brexit contingency plans ahead of schedule in reaction to recent large scale demonstrations.

300 officers will be on standby from early August to deal with any issues that may arise from Britain leaving the EU, including protests and disruption at ports.

The plans were originally activated in mid-March, but were then stood down in May after Article 50 was extended until Halloween, with the intention to reactive them in mid-October.

But police bosses have now decided to bring officers back early after recent environmental protests, including Greenpeace activists boarding an oil rig in the North Sea and Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in Edinburgh.

A multi-agency control room in Bilston Glen in Midlothian will help to coordinate the response of the 300 officers, who will be drawn from local and national divisions, to issues arising from the impact of Brexit

Detective Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “We put our original plans in place from 18 March but we then stood officers down on 12 May following the extension of Article 50 until 31 October, 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.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Decisions around officer deployment, contingency planning and mutual aid are operational decisions for the Chief Constable. However, I welcome this prudent, sensible approach to contingency planning to ensure Police Scotland remains best-placed to keep people safe.   

“The Scottish Government is carefully considering the implications of leaving the EU and intensive preparation is underway, including our work with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland.

“The reality is the UK is not, and cannot be, ready for a ‘no deal’ EU exit on 31 October – such an outcome would inevitably cause very significant disruption to the lives of ordinary citizens and businesses, as well as long-term harm to our economy.

“We will continue to press the UK Government to ensure this is avoided by taking ‘no deal’ off the table, while working on preparing for all eventualities.

“The Scottish Government has also been 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.”

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