The head of the Scottish Police Federation has said that while it is possible, it is not probable that Scottish police would be called upon to operate in Northern Ireland.
Calum Steele was responding to reports at the weekend that under contingency plans drawn up by the British government, around 300 Scottish police would be deployed to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as a preliminary step in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Steele said it would be an issue of “enormous political sensitivity” to see any representatives of British institutions on Irish soil.
However, he did acknowledge that in 2013 police from Scotland had assisted at “flashpoints” on the Ardoyne Road during protests at restrictions on Orange order marches.
While there were similar values between the Northern Ireland and Scottish police forces in terms of training and there was “inter-operability”, police in Northern Ireland were “much more attuned” to suspicious activity and that level of alertness was something that was not available in Scotland, he said.
“That moment of hesitation could put officers at risk.”
At the end of the day this was a policing decision, he added.
The first priority of the Scottish police force was to the people of Scotland and if there was a call for help from another police force “that would be difficult to ignore”.
No matter where they would be deployed in Northern Ireland Scottish police officers would be a target for “emboldened dissidents,” he warned.