FUGITIVES could soon be targeted on a "most wanted" list as it emerges 39 Scots are on the run across the globe with up to 140 foreign criminals potentially hiding out in this country.
An elite fugitives unit is to be launched by Scotland's new single police force to target those high-risk offenders who flee the country, as well as criminals who travel to Scotland to evade justice elsewhere.
Scotland's "most wanted" roll could work in a similar way to the FBI equivalent, which publishes images and details of criminals appealing to members of the public for information on their whereabouts.
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The unit will use specialist officers to track them down.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Cuddihy, who will take on the role of head of organised crime and counter terrorism for Police Scotland, said: "We want to get the names out there and publicised, providing it does not cause a problem judicially.
"If somebody's on their toes abroad, we should be able to put their pictures out there to give ourselves the best chance of tracking them down. It will be like Scotland's Most Wanted."
The unit will allow officers to travel to other countries to trace and arrest wanted criminals such as William Paterson and Derek Ferguson, the two suspects in the Kevin "The Gerbil" Carroll murder, who are believed to be on the run in Spain.
It will draw on the worldwide, multi-million pound resources of bodies such as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, Interpol and Europol, as well as police in many countries and the International Co-operation Unit at the Crown Office.
Mr Cuddihy said the specialist team will be more effective in bringing fugitives to justice.
He said: "This is the very first unit of its kind in Scotland.
"Through our partnership with other organisations, the world becomes a smaller place and we will extend our reach to track down individuals and bring them to justice.
"If our officers have to go to another country, they'll go. For me, it makes no difference whether they're in Pollok, Easterhouse, Malaga or Lyon – the same rules apply."
The police chief will also have control over policing the country's borders and will be able to issue images of suspects believed to be travelling in and out of the country.
He said there could be fugitives from 20 countries hiding in Scotland.
If one nationality becomes prevalent in Scotland in terms of fugitives, he may look to bring in police from that country.
The officer, who was deployed to Slovakia in the Moira Jones murder case, claimed the 2008 killing was an excellent example of how co-operation between countries and international partners works.
He said: "It's an example of how through that international co-operation we now have we can locate an individual where once it would have been very difficult for police to track down someone who has left Scotland when there is very little known about them."
Ms Jones's killer Marek Harcar was brought back to Scotland under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which the UK Government is considering opting out of.
David J Dickson, acting head of the International Co-operation Unit at the Crown Office, said: "We look forward to working with our new partners in ensuring these cases con-tinue to be treated with the utmost efficiency and professionalism."