Police leave cancelled ahead of indy vote day

POLICE officers' rest days have been cancelled as a massive security operation is mounted for the independence vote - and its fallout.

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Months of meticulous planning aims to help ensure the safety of voters who will attend polling stations across Scotland to cast their vote.

However, Police Scotland chiefs remained tight-lipped about how many officers wil be drafted in amid fears of potential trouble and disorder.

A huge operation is also in place for September 19 in anticipation of potential trouble sparked by the referendum result.

In recent months, the debate has been highly emotive with high-profile figures on both sides being subject to abuse, threats, vandalism and alleged instances of violence.

Plans have been drawn up to ensure officers have a visible presence at voting venues.

It is understood police presence will be increased at polling stations across Glasgow on September 18.

A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed rest days had been cancelled in "some areas" of the country.

A source close to the operation, said: "We are expecting an exceptionally high turnout and are preparing for significantly more people voting than in general elections.

"Plans will see officers at the majority of polling stations , but they won't necessarily be there constantly."

Another insider expressed concerns about possible queues at polling stations and urged people not to leave their vote to the last minute.

Superintendent Jim Baird denied claims annual leave for police officers had been cancelled on September 18 and 19, but stressed plans were "well in hand".

He said: "The referendum is a significant event which is expected to attract a higher than normal turnout. Arrangements are well in hand and will be appropriate and proportionate.

"Police Scotland's priority is to ensure public safety and security. We will respond appropriately to any issues."

The Evening Times can reveal the plans just weeks after Police Scotland took the lead on the biggest security operation in Scotland's history for the Commonwealth Games.

However, The Scottish Police Federation was forced to investigate complaints from police working long shifts during the Games.

The organisation that represents officers said it had been contacted by "disgruntled" members unhappy about shift patterns during Glasgow 2014.

The number of police officers who have handed in their notice has risen by 43% since Police Scotland was launched.

Police Scotland said the figures did not give it "cause for concern".

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

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