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Portfolio Justice

previously. We have seen in the past that an attack methodology was exported to the UK mainland and we wouldn’t want to see that happening again. “Without doubt, the most important thing to acknowledge is the biggest threat for us comes from international terrorism. Tere are people, based in the UK and in other countries, that absolutely want to undermine our democracy, who want to destroy our way of life and who want to kill people and that is where the main threat exists. Tat is where most of our resources for counter-terrorism, including non-police counter-terrorism, are directed. “When people hear about the threat level being applied to the UK, it is important we remember that it is the whole of the UK. We need to see ourselves as part of the UK and we wouldn’t want to reduce our awareness or response to terrorism and therefore make the rest of the UK vulnerable. Likewise, we would not want to see our colleagues in England and Wales reduce their activities and make Scotland more vulnerable.” Concerns over general policing numbers

have been raised and it is predicted forces across Scotland will be operating at a 25 per cent reduction in the coming years. Earlier this month the UK Border Agency confirmed that funds for three police officers at Stranraer port had been withdrawn. Around 1.75 million people and 750,000 vehicles travel through the ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan each year. McCashey said: “Te UKBA funded a

small number of officers at Stranraer and that has now been withdrawn so that capability has been reduced. Importantly, though, Stranraer is not a UK border because people coming from Northern

Beyond the headlines

Merger talks long overdue

An agreement to look at the potential benefits of merging Scotland’s police forces is a long overdue decision that many must have thought would never happen. The motivation behind the move is to slash costs and limit the seriousness of next month’s Budget reductions, which could see policing numbers in Scotland cut by thousands. Talk of mergers is not new, but only now are they being properly explored by police chiefs across the country. It was announced last week that a radical shake-up

48 Holyrood 20 September 2010

Ireland are coming from within the UK. “However, we need to be pragmatic

with this and realise if people are able to enter southern Ireland then in effect they don’t need to cross a UK border to come here. Terefore it is important there are appropriate measures in places like Stranraer and in Northern Ireland. “I am concerned about the reduction

in police capability generally but I am reassured the Border Agency will provide some resources from Glasgow and we are currently monitoring that situation.

“If the threat remains high for a long period of time

that has a significant effect on our policing operations because we need to put more into it”

“In the economic climate, the public

sector is facing spending cuts across the board. Te police generally will not be immune from the cuts and I suspect our counter-terrorism capabilities is not going to be immune from that either. “Whilst there are specialist officers within

forces that work in counter-terrorism, I think of every police officer as a counter- terrorist officer. In the high streets across Scotland, the officers patrolling are given the appropriate briefings, skills and training to allow them to deal, initially at least, with something that might be terrorist related. I think we should take some reassurance that

had been launched and senior officers will look at reducing the country’s forces. One option would see the establishment of a nationwide police force, while another would see three forces set up – with one roughly covering the east of the country, one the west and one the north.

Clearly there are a number of major positives that could result from such a move. In Scotland there are too many senior officers doing the same job and creating duplication. When the forces are required to work together it creates a situation where there are up to eight people, of relative qualifications and experience, doing the same work. Having eight separate forces police a country of just five million seems excessive. Undoubtedly, the most frustrating thing for those who have always supported the restructuring of forces must be the time that has been wasted in

this is not all about specialist detectives or people like me dealing with the terrorist threat and not involving others, it’s about the police service as a whole and about the communities we serve.” Although security services in the UK have

enjoyed widespread praise recently from governments in London and Scotland, McCashey said the job is always extremely difficult. He said: “One of the biggest challenges

is we need to stay a step ahead of the terrorist and it is fairly obvious the terrorist just needs to get it right once in terms of mounting a successful attack. We, I mean the police, community and other agencies, need to get it right all the time to prevent the attacks.” McCashey added that his role is not only

to co-ordinate work across Scotland, but further afield and believes the joined-up approach is essential. He added: “In my role I am responsible

for counter terrorism in Scotland so in effect, I’m the strategic lead across the eight Scottish forces. Whilst I’m based here in Strathclyde Police headquarters, my responsibility extends across the forces and in that regard, I work closely with the chief constables and other people at senior levels to make sure we continue to have a policing capability to deal with terrorism in the wider context. “I am also well linked in with the counter-

terrorism network that exists throughout the UK, including the 43 police forces in England and Wales and other government agencies which are primarily based in London. Te fact we have such a linked-up operation in the UK is our main strength and that is what we all hope to build on in the years to come.”

reaching this point. The business case for joining police services has been speculative for several years but it is only now it has been properly scrutinised. Had this issue been taken more seriously during the ‘good times’ Scotland may have had a fit-for-purpose police force ready in time for the unprecedented cuts around the corner. The fear now is that police chiefs will be forced to throw together rushed plans to try and find a timely solution to the crisis.

It seems there needs to be some kind of disaster happen before reviews and restructures can even be considered in the public sector. Admittedly, merging forces would not be easy, and would bring with it several concerns and obstacles that would need to be overcome. But whether Scotland’s policing elite decide forces should be merged or not, it may now be too little, too late.

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