Police step up preparations to deal with Brexit-related unrest
PUBLISHED: 07:16 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:29 18 October 2019
Police officers are having holiday time restricted at the end of the month to deal with any potential civil rest over Brexit.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has taken the step, with it still far from certain whether Brexit will go ahead as planned.
The UK is due to leave the European Union (EU) at the end of the month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Thursday) agreed a divorce deal with the EU, but it still needs to be ratified by Parliament.
If that fails, Mr Johnson would need to seek an extension to the Brexit process as per a bill which was passed in the House of Commons last month.
Police say they have stepped up contingency planning so it can deal with any consequences of Brexit happening or not.
A police spokesman said: "As part of the planning for the end of the month we have been reviewing our staffing resources.
"A limited restriction on further leave and time off was put in place about four weeks ago as contingency for the potential Brexit weekend and is subject to ongoing review.
"The bottom line is that we are well prepared — and better prepared than we were in March or April.
"We have been working closely with our colleagues across the country, including the National Police Chiefs' Council.
"Our planning involves preparing for various scenarios and is based on our experience of well-rehearsed plans and tried-and-tested procedures."
Chief Inspector Ben Moseley told a meeting of South Gloucestershire Safer and Stronger Communities Strategic Partnership, which includes the police, council, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and the voluntary sector, there had been a spike in hate crime after the 2016 EU referendum.
He said: "So we will be carefully monitoring that as we move towards the end of October.
"We have not thus far seen any significant increase in hate crime.
"Time off for police in Avon & Somerset has been restricted around the end of the month.
"It's the sensible thing to do and police forces around the country are doing it.
"Within the force we have already met with the Home Office to ensure we have a plan to deal with any contingencies for Brexit day."
In March, when the original Brexit deadline was missed, supporters said they would block the M5 near Clevedon but no major disruption was reported.
North Somerset, like the rest of the country, voted in favour in 2016 of leaving the EU with a 52 per cent majority.