Dedicated Brexit unit shut down at cost of £2.46m

Police Scotland’s dedicated Brexit unit has been stood down after racking up costs of £2.46 million in just eight weeks.

May 21, 2019
By Tony Thompson

The Brexit Coordination Centre, which was based at the force’s Bilston Glen Area Control Room in Midlothian, was set up to deal with incidents linked to the UK leaving the EU. However, after an agreement was made to extend Article 50 until October 31, Police Scotland has decided to temporarily disband the unit, with the 360 officers returning to their divisions.

The National Reserve officially stood down on May 13, but a report submitted to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) showed the unit had been kept busy during the eight-week period. Officers were present at 26 football matches, assisted with Extinction Rebellion protests in Glasgow and Edinburgh, covered a number of other protests and also assisted with high-risk missing persons cases and murder investigations.

A residual planning team with an associated intelligence cell will remain in place to support ongoing planning relating to policing around Brexit.

The report added that the EU Exit related costs of the force’s contingency arrangements up until May 13 stood at £2.46 million.

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr previously revealed that there was no budget for these costs as the force was already set to overspend by up to £42 million this year. The Scottish government has called for Westminster to pay for the additional policing costs, but the UK Government says it has already given Holyrood £100 million for Brexit-related costs.

The latest developments will be discussed at a board meeting of the SPA on Wednesday (May 22) in Edinburgh.

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