Police Scotland is spending more than £300,000 a week on extra officers who have been taken on to help the force prepare for Brexit, the chief constable has revealed.

Iain Livingstone said the decision to leave the European Union had been an “unprecedented and unforeseen cost pressure on policing”.

He told watchdogs at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) that 90 new officers were taken on in February.

With the UK originally due to leave the European Union on March 29, the chief constable said previously announced plans to reduce operational numbers within the force by 300 were being scrapped.

He told the SPA that at the time he had been “very aware of my responsibilities to the public purse and the adverse impact that these decisions would have on our ongoing budget deficit”.

Confirming an additional 90 officers had been taken on, Mr Livingstone said: “The impact is significant, it is in excess of £300,000 a week.”

He added: “I made those operational decisions based on assessment of the risks to citizens and communities in Scotland, which in my view were directly attributable to the uncertainty associated with the UK exit from the EU and I am still of the view that the decisions remain necessary and proportion.”

He said he had now “instructed a review of the recruitment profile within Police Scotland for the remainder of this financial year, with a view to making sure financial responsibility is rigorously pursued and implemented, balanced against the duty to protect the citizens of Scotland”.

The SPA board meeting in Edinburgh also heard from Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr on the issue, who told them: “We are spending a lot of money, at the moment over £300,000 a week, that we have no budgetary provision for.”

He stressed the force had a duty to “protect the citizens of Scotland whenever Brexit, in whatever form it takes, happens”.

Mr Kerr added: “All there has been at the moment is simply a political delay, by law there is still going to be an exit at the end of October.

“We simply don’t know if that is going to be changed or otherwise.”

Mr Kerr also revealed the force had taken the decision to “stand up” approximately 100 officers to assist with the policing of Thursday’s European Parliament elections.

There are some 4,700 polling stations across Scotland that the force has to police during voting hours.

Mr Kerr said: “Tomorrow during the European elections we’ve had to stand up four police support units, that’s over 100 cops that we would never normally done in the past.

“We would never normally need that sort of support, particularly for European elections.

“We do now. The tone is just fundamentally different.”