SCOTLAND’S senior police officers are warning about the prospect of mass protests, public disorder and major disruption on roads and ports as the country faces a No-Deal Brexit as well as the ongoing pandemic.

Chief Superintendent Stewart Carle, president of the Association of Police Superintendents, has written to MSPs raising concerns over officers ability to deal with emergencies and day to day matters on top of the demands from the UK’s departure from the EU and the coronavirus crisis.

He has outlined the situation ahead of a Holyrood committee hearing tomorrow where Deputy Chief Constable William Kerr will give evidence.

In a written submission to MSPs, Carle stated: “The Association has concerns as to the effect of that EU Exit will have on the capabilities and resilience of the service.

“EU Exit is only one of myriad, major challenges facing policing in Scotland now, and certainly continuing into and throughout 2021. Any major diversion of officers from ‘business-as-usual’ services to police the consequences of EU Exit such as mass public protests, disorder and disruption to critical infrastructure such as seaports, arterial routes and to domestic goods distribution centres must be a concern for the effect on community-based and emergency response policing.”

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Carle added that as the UK’s second-largest police force, it would be likely that police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland would make requests to Police Scotland for assistance, especially in terms of supplying additional specialist public order officers.

He added: “Such requests for mutual aid are made on a reciprocal basis just as the Police Service of Scotland has requested such support from UK policing for COP26.”

The UK and EU are continuing to negotiate future policing and security arrangements as part of a wider deal over their new relationship after Britain leaves the single European market at the end of this year.

However, no agreement has yet been reached and Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this month advised businesses to prepare for a No-Deal.

Currently Britain has access to a range of EU shared data systems and protocols which help UK police services fight crime and catch offenders who have fled or who live in one of the EU27 states.

They include the European Arrest Warrant and the European Criminal Records System. However, in the event of a No-Deal the UK will not be allowed access to these programmes raising fears that combating cross-border international and organised crime will be harder.

In its submission to MSPs on Holyrood’s justice sub-committee on policing, Police Scotland underlined the disadvantage which will be faced by the force from the loss of access to these EU services.

It said having to pull out of one particular IT system – the Schengen Information System Second Generation (SIS II) – would have the most negative impact.

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The system enables members to share and receive police alerts for people wanted for arrest for extradition; missing adults and children who need to be placed under police protection or in a place of safety; witnesses and court absconders and criminals requiring covert surveillance.

Police Scotland told MSPs the loss of access to SIS II posed “the biggest risk to Scottish communities”.

In its submission it also highlighted travel, freight and border preparations which were underway relating to Brexit.

“Whilst Border Control is the remit of UK Border Force (UKBF), Police Scotland’s role is to support UKBF, focussing on criminality and counter terrorism,” it said.

“Whilst not a border, Cairnryan/Stranraer is acknowledged as a key port for the movement of both freight and passengers between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“With no clear indication of the potential future border, or otherwise, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Police Scotland are cognisant of the local impact of any potential outcome.

“Police Scotland is supporting preparations being conducted by the Dumfries and Galloway Local Resilience Partnership, in conjunction with Transport Scotland.”

It added Police Scotland was working with forces in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland around the Northern Ireland Protocol, the EU/UK plan intended to keep an open border on the island which helped bring an end to the Troubles and preserve the peace process.