A Brexit base for Police Scotland will be opened in Midlothian as part of plans to put 360 officers on standby to deal with incidents that may arise because of the EU exit.
The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29 and the force hopes to have the officers available from the middle of next month. They would deal with any incidents related to the potential impact of Brexit such as protests and disruption at ports, and would also be available to deployed elsewhere in Britain on a mutual aid basis. Officers will work in a multi-agency control centre that will be set-up in a control room at Bilston Glen. Officers will be drawn from local and national divisions and from back office functions.
Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “This is purely a contingency at this stage and part of our planning to allow us to give officers the required notice about changes to their shifts under police regulations.
“These officers will be deployed to local policing duties when not required for policing purposes related to Brexit.
“We have taken this decision so that we have enhanced capacity to respond to greater policing demands during this period. Our principle focus is, and will remain, the safety of the citizens of Scotland.
“We are currently planning for a variety of possible scenarios, including potential disruption around Scottish sea and air ports, and protest events, to wider challenges across the UK leading to potential public disorder, which could lead to mutual aid requests from other police services in the UK.
“The Chief Constable has made it very clear that we will respond to such requests, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland, but any request will always be considered against the needs of policing in Scotland.”
Scottish 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.”