Police fear no-deal Brexit could spark widespread disorder – leaked report
Senior officers believe there is a real possibility that the military could be required to help cope with Brexit disruption if there is no deal.
Police fear a no-deal Brexit will lead to civil disorder if the country faces shortages of goods, food and medicine, according to a leaked document.
Contingency plans drawn up by police chiefs include the “real possibility” of calling on military assistance and preventing officers taking leave around the date of the UK’s withdrawal in March 2019.
The document prepared by the National Police Co-ordination Centre (NPoCC) warns of traffic queues at ports with “unprecedented and overwhelming” disruption to the road network.
Concerns around medical supplies could “feed civil disorder”, while a rise in the price of goods could also lead to “widespread protest”, the document obtained by the Sunday Times said.
The potential for a restricted supply of goods raised concerns of “widespread protest which could then escalate into disorder”.
It could also trigger a rise in non-Brexit related acquisitive crime such as theft.
The document, set to be considered by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) later this month, also sets out concerns about:
– EU police officers losing their legal right to carry a warrant card, potentially affecting 750 officers in the Metropolitan Police alone.
– Increased data costs hitting the budgets of forces which rely on mobile communication.
– Disruption potentially lasting for three months either side of the March 29 Brexit day, rather than the six weeks planned for by the Government.
– A perceived lack of communication between the Home Office and the Brexit department.
– The impact of the Operation Stack arrangements for queuing traffic at Channel ports being used at docks around the country.
Shadow police minister Louise Haigh lashed out at the Government’s handling of the situation.
“This is the nightmare scenario long feared; according to the UK’s most senior police officers a no-deal Brexit could leave Britain on the brink,” she said.
Thanks to 8 years of austerity, the police are not resilient enough to deal with the current challenges of violent crime, CSE, modern slavery, terrorism, cybercrime to name a few.— Louise Haigh MP (@LouHaigh) September 8, 2018
There is no way they can withstand the consequences of a no-deal.
The Home Office said it would not comment on leaked documents.
A spokesman said: “We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and are increasingly confident that we will secure a deal with the EU.
“However, it is the duty of any responsible government to prepare for every eventuality, including the unlikely scenario that we reach March 2019 without agreeing a deal.
“With that in mind, we are working closely with operational partners – including the police – on contingency planning so we can ensure the safety and security of our citizens in all scenarios.”
NPCC lead for operations Chief Constable Charlie Hall told the Sunday Times: “The police are planning for all scenarios that may require a police response in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“At this stage, we have no intelligence to suggest there will be an increase in crime or disorder. However, we remain vigilant and will continue to assess any threats and develop plans accordingly.”