NEARLY 400 police officers are to be put on standby in case of public disorder as a result of a 'no-deal' Brexit.

Police Scotland chiefs are set to have the extra officers on alert from mid-March to respond to any issues that may rise across the country, such as protests and disruption at ports.

The officers will be drawn from local and national divisions and from back office functions.

Contingency planning is being done in conjunction with colleagues across UK policing and is based on identifying the “reasonable worst case scenarios” that may be faced in the event of a no-deal exit. 

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr will brief members of the Scottish Police Authority - the Scottish Government's public body that holds Police Scotland to account - at a meeting in Glasgow today.

He 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.

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"As outlined to the SPA board last week, 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."

Other officers will work in a multi-agency control hub that will be set up to help co-ordinate the response to issues arising from Brexit. Police at the centre will work with local authorities, emergency services and other public sector bodies.

Susan Deacon, chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: "These contingency plans can give the public confidence that our police service is well prepared to deal with the potential implications of the UK’s exit from the EU."

The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday, March 29.