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Joined-up approach paying dividends

POLICE Scotland wasn't even a twinkle in Kenny MacAskill's eye when a new national crime campus at Gartcosh was first mooted.

Back in 2005, when Labour and the Liberal Democrats still ruled Scotland, plans were announced to expand the then Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency in to a new elite unit, sitting on top of territorial forces like Strathclyde and Grampian.

The press quickly dubbed the body, renamed SCDEA, Scotland's FBI. Its base would be at the brownfield site left by the old Gartcosh steel mills in Lanarkshire.

Scroll forward nine years and the SCDEA has been merged in to Police Scotland by SNP Justice Secretary Mr MacAskill. But its vision of a crime campus at Gartcosh has finally been realised.

Now, however, it is now at the heart of an even bigger crime-fighting alliance then even the agency proposed: Police Scotland, with tentacles in every corner of the country, and its partners.

Gangsters have noticed, wherever they are. "We wanted to make sure there was an uninterrupted service for the people of Scotland when we merged in to a single force," said Detective Chief Superintendent John Cuddihy, pausing for effect. "That has not been the case for organised crime. Their service has been interrupted.

"Individually we are good. Collectively we are far, far better. What we now see is that Aberdeen in the watch of Police Scotland have delivered their biggest seizure of cocaine, 10 kilos. The same applies to Tayside, its biggest seizure came under the national force.

"We are now putting a spotlight on certain corners of Scotland because they have covert tactics. There is an equity of service throughout Scotland that wasn't the case before the advent of Police Scotland."

Mr Cuddihy's superior, Assistant Chief Constable Ruariadh Nicolson, reckons this "spread of resources across the country" has made a huge difference in the first year of Police Scotland.

"We are able to tackle organised crime and counterterrorism from Dumfries to Shetland," he said.

Mr Nicolson stressed successful operations to wipe out drug distributors in the northern isles. "Why should Shetland not enjoy the same policing as they get in other areas?" he asked.

Gartcosh has a reach way beyond its initial vision.

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Local government

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