Police chiefs preparing for ‘widespread civil disorder under no-deal Brexit’
British police chiefs are reportedly preparing contingency plans to cope with a potential breakout of disorder should Britain leave the European Union without a deal.
The country’s top cops are said to have warned that requesting military assistance is “a real possibility”, while forces linked to the border with the continent are to cancel all planned leave.
Furthermore, disruption and civil unrest could last for three months either side of March 29, when Britain is due to leave, rather than the six weeks accounted for by ministers.
The “predominant” concern in the leaked report for officers is that a lack of food and goods, including NHS supplies, will prompt “civil disorder leading to widespread unrest”.
It says that theft and robbery could increase in the event of shortages with the “expectation that more people will become ill”.
The report, which was prepared by the National Police Co- ordination Centre, and seen by the Sunday Times adds: “There is an expectation that crime not directly connected to Brexit will rise, as acquisitive crime will habitually rise in the event of restricted availability of goods.”
It also warns that Operation Stack, the codename for the queuing system of lorries waiting to cross the Channel when traffic is disrupted, could prompt “unprecedented and overwhelming disruption” to the UK’s road network.
The document also takes aim at a “perceived lack of communication” between the policing unit of the Home Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union.
And it warns that officers from other EU countries could be affected by being potentially unable to hold a “warrant card” and therefore carry out their duties.
Shadow Policing minister, Louise Haigh, said: “This is the nightmare scenario long feared; according to the UK's most senior police officers a no-deal Brexit would leave Britain on the brink. But as the clock ticks, the Tories indulge in their own internal melodrama.
“Through their gross mismanagement, and their reckless flirtation with no-deal, the Tories are showing nothing but contempt for the safety and security of the British people.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s chief constable, George Hamilton, has hit out at ministers for failing to offer “information and clarity” on how they are preparing for potential disruption to peace and security in the province should the land border be hardened.
He warned that officers have thwarted dozens of potential attacks by republican terrorists, but that groups would likely be emboldened by any frontier.
He said in an interview with the same paper: “We can make the sensible assumption that violent dissident Republican groupings and organised criminals will seek to exploit that. It’s already tricky enough policing that high-threat border.”
Asked if the Government understood Brexit’s potential consequences for the region, he replied: “I’m not sure all of them do. I have a concern some may see issues to do with the Irish border as literally peripheral, not just geographically but in terms of impact.”