Police response to Brexit should be delivered at UK level, chiefs say

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The policing response to Brexit should be delivered at UK level while recognising Scotland’s “distinct constitutional arrangements”, police chiefs have agreed.

UK chief constables reached the agreement at a meeting on Monday, which Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone attended.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said it was agreed the response to Brexit should be delivered at a UK level, both in terms of the potential loss of existing law enforcement arrangements and preparations for any impact on operational policing, while recognising the distinct constitutional arrangements in Scotland.

Mr Livingstone also committed Police Scotland to doing everything it can to support colleagues across the UK, and particularly in Northern Ireland, in relation to operational policing.

Police Scotland said it hopes to maintain strong relations with forces across Europe and the UK.

Mr Johnson said: “As the second biggest force in the UK, we will provide mutual aid to other forces if we’re asked to do so.

“We have no intelligence to suggest that there’s any likelihood of public protests or disorder in Scotland, but we will continue to assess this and will put measures in place to deal with any disruption or any increase in crime.

“Police Scotland has been doing a lot of work in preparation for the potential impact of Brexit and a small team has spent the past 18 months reviewing legislation, powers, processes and procedures, to understand what that impact might look like and what we can do to mitigate it.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure it’s minimal in terms of public safety and security.

“Our relationship with our colleagues in Europe is strong and will remain so. These countries want to be able to continue to access UK systems as well, so it’s in everyone’s interests that we’re able to work together to keep the citizens of Scotland and the EU safe.”

One of the country’s most senior officers has warned a no-deal Brexit will make it harder for police to protect UK citizens as forces fall back on “slower, more bureaucratic” systems.

Sara Thornton, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, spoke as plans were unveiled for a new unit that will oversee how forces use alternative systems if the UK crashes out if the EU in the spring.

The new unit has received £2 million in Home Office funding and will be made up of 50 police officers and staff.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While I commend Police Scotland’s offer of mutual assistance, this is a stark reminder of the hugely damaging impact Brexit could have on our security capabilities and why the UK Government must seek to protect access to the current EU data-sharing and co-operation tools, like the European Arrest Warrant and Europol, as part of any deal.

“It is evidence of the huge of amount of resource and effort needed by the police, and agencies across Scotland, to prepare for Brexit – made worse by the continued lack of clarity from the UK Government over even basic questions about our future security relationship.

“This government has been clear that leaving the EU without a deal is neither desirable or acceptable.

“Not leaving would be best and the only alternative thereafter is continued membership of the single market and customs union which is essential for our economy, our society and the people of Scotland.”

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