Feb. 6, 2019– Mary Greeley News – POLICE Scotland are so desperately worried about Brexit that the force are now phoning up political activists to ask if they plan on causing any trouble when Britain leaves the EU.
One of those contacted was campaigner Kirsty Haigh, who was involved in organizing the Scotland Against Trump march that brought tens of thousands to the streets of Edinburgh during the summer.
Haigh said she found the experience “unsettling”.
“The police just phoned me wanting information about any upcoming anti-Brexit activity. The [Police Liaison Officer] said he’d been instructed to phone me every week. Deeply unsettling for the police to be breathing down the backs of campaigners like this – who has instructed them to do this?” she tweeted.
She said the officer told her police were “getting in touch with loads of groups”.
“From what was said it seems they plan to just get in touch with all the activists they know of,” Haigh added.
Green MSP John Finnie, who chairs Holyrood’s policing committee, said the force needed to “reflect on their approach”.
“The police have a legitimate role to play in ensuring the safety of those involved in peaceful protests and understanding the cumulative demands this may place on the service.
“However, contacting known activists in this way is understandably open to the interpretation that the police are on a wider fishing expedition.
“I hope the police will reflect on their approach as it’s self-evident that it has concerned active citizens who’ve been contacted.”
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams defended the strategy.
“The primary role of Police Liaison Officers is to communicate with people who are or may be planning to hold public events such as demonstrations,” he said.
“Our primary aim is to keep people safe and PLOs often contact groups or individuals at times of heightened political tension such as Brexit to clarify if they have any activity planned and to support the planning and facilitation of lawful protest.”
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has demanded the UK Government pick up the tab in full for the cost of Brexit on Scotland’s police force.
Chief constable Iain Livingstone, the country’s most senior police officer, has already warned leaving Europe will add £18 million to his staffing bill, with plans to cut numbers by 300 scrapped, and the recruitment of an extra 100 brought forward.
Yousaf said: “We are clear that any costs related to EU exit should not have a detrimental impact on Scotland’s public finances and should be met by the UK Government in full.”
He added: “We are carefully considering the implications of leaving the EU and intensive preparation is under way, including work with the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland, who are responsible for operational policing decisions.”