Police Scotland’s most senior officer has expressed concern over how his force will meet the cost of providing security during a visit from President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump is expected to travel to Scotland next month as part of a highly controversial visit to the UK.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board yesterday that despite no official confirmation that Scotland would be included in the trip, his force has begun drawing up plans for a security operation involving 5,000 officers.
Mr Livingstone said leave had been cancelled and shift patterns changed for the policing plan, which he estimated will cost around £5 million.
He said: “In practical terms, even without a confirmed visit or itinerary, we need to consider a wide variety of policing factors, ranging from the deployment appropriate security measures that would be required for the president of the United States as a protected person, and clearly the policing of potential events in relation to his visit, which would include potential demonstration and protest, and our duty to ensure and enable such demonstration and protest to be made should people wish to do so.
“We have had to cancel rest days and change shift for many officers, (with) significant disruption to the people involved and potentially their families.
“We estimate at this time – and very much dependent on the specific nature of the potential visit – that we will have to utilise over 5,000 conventional officers, along with public order officers, specialised search and firearms resources.”
Mr Livingstone added that even if Mr Trump does not visit, “there is still potential for a number of events in Scotland to have implications for us given his ties to Scotland and some of his legacy business interests”.Asked about the cost of the operation to Police Scotland, a force which is planning for a £35m budget deficit this year, he said: “We don’t really have clarity at this stage about where, if at all, such additional funding could be sought.
“I have concerns both about the amount of cost, around £5 million, and... where, if at all, Police Scotland will be able to get some support.”
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF), which represents the rank and file, called on the UK Government to provide additional help.
General Secretary Calum Steele said: “The uncertainty over the question of President Trump visiting Scotland during his official visit to the UK is already causing considerable disruption to police officers.
That disruption will have long lasting effects and is likely to be compounded if the already overstretched budget of the Police Service of Scotland (PSoS) is expected to pick up the bill for this visit. The possible reduction of the operating budget of Police Scotland by £5m will deeply damage the quality of policing that’s able to be delivered to the communities of Scotland for many months to come.
“It is simply iniquitous to expect the police service to pick up the costs for this at the same time as additional central government funding is being made available to cover the exceptional costs the police forces in England and Wales will incur for their part.”
President Trump is due to arrive in the UK on July 12 and will meet Prime Minister Theresa May and the Queen during his visit.
Reports from the US have suggested he could visit both his Scottish golf resorts at Turnberry in Ayrshire and Menie in Aberdeenshire.