Scotland politics

Police Scotland to put 400 officers on 'Brexit duty'

Iain Livingstone Image copyright PA
Image caption Iain Livingstone said his force needed more funding to help with the additional demands that might be caused by Brexit

Up to 400 Scottish police officers could be deployed to deal with the consequences of Brexit, the country's chief constable has said.

Iain Livingstone said Police Scotland had contingency plans in place based on a "reasonable worst case scenario".

This could include potential public disorder, disruption at ports and airports, and the need for officers to be deployed to Northern Ireland.

He called for additional funds to be made available to help meet the cost.

Speaking at a board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Mr Livingstone confirmed the force would bring forward plans to recruit about 100 extra officers.

It will also scrap plans to reduce its number of officers by 300 - which had been expected to save £12.6m.

The savings were part of a drive to reduce the force's deficit, which stood at £34m last year.

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."

'Additional funding'

Mr Livingstone said his priority was to ensure that people in Scotland were "effectively protected, policed and kept secure".

He said the UK Treasury had made additional funding available to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and to policing and law enforcement in England and Wales.

The chief constable added: "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."

SPA chairwoman Susan Deacon said she shared his concerns and would write to the Scottish government to quantify the funding required.

She said the letter would stress the "hope and belief that it would be possible for additional contingency funding to be made available" either from the Scottish or UK government.

Ms Deacon 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.