POLICING staff have been stopped from booking holiday on and around the date for Brexit being implemented in case it leads to disorder on the streets.

South Worcestershire Superintendent Damian Pettit said his teams have “planning and operations in place should we encounter significant protest or public disorder”.

He said certain staff have been informed between specific dates, “we won’t authorise leave”.

The original date for leaving the EU – March 29 – has been postponed and MPs are expected to vote for a third time on the deal, possibly on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Theresa May had hoped for an extension until June 30, but the EU has offered May 22 if MPs approve her withdrawal deal, or April 12 if they reject it.

Supt Pettit told the Worcester News: “It would be an unsafe decision to say ‘book your leave as normal’ bearing in mind that Brexit is becoming significant and has been significant in the eyes of many people.

“There are specific dates that we have given, constantly under review, where we wouldn’t be accepting any more leave applications.”

However, the superintendent, who took up his role in May last year, said while he and his colleagues are “certainly aware of the political climate” he emphasised he was “not of the mind” that the city or surrounding areas would see riots.

“Every policing area will probably say the same, it’s hard to anticipate,” he continued.

“We are constantly assessing to ensure we have the appropriate policing response to address it.”

He went on to say, the leave embargo is a “pragmatic response” but that “there are a number of tactics that the police can consider” – though he did not feel at liberty to discuss them in any detail.

The superintendent’s staff have in recent months responded to two EDL rallies and subsequent counter protests in the city – with the second, last July, seeing officers shipped in from across the region.

Supt Pettit said while he did not want to encroach on staff’s downtime, his teams “understand their role in the police community in keeping peace and order” – but stressed officers will “not lose out on their leave” as a result of any shifts worked in relation to Brexit.

While any staff who have already applied for leave on those dates will be unlikely to lose those days off.

“We will just be working with them to say what is a time appropriate to them once we get through these next few weeks,” he explained.

“It’s what we call referred staffing levels, which is a number of staff we would anticipate we will need to provide a particular response.

“We keep them to a minimum because we don’t want to disrupt our officers.”

He went on to say: “The police are good at planning and also having contingences. So, whilst we would really encourage our community to carry on as normal and enjoy their working life and their home life – why shouldn’t they – and understand that Brexit is there or thereabouts and taking place, it doesn’t necessarily call for protests, it doesn’t necessarily call for our community to divide.

“It’s a very diverse and accepting community, I think, in South Worcestershire – why would that change due to the political climate, over night?

“But, bearing in mind people can protest, we all feel different about different decisions made at government level. I don’t have a political view on it, but what I will do is keep peace and harmony the best I am able to in the circumstances.”

He added: “My pledge would be if we have to put any kind of policing operation on, we will if it’s reasonable, let people know that’s what we are going to do and afterwards we’ll tell people why we did it.”