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Police aiming to use 'super Asbos' against crime bosses

SCOTLAND'S top crime barons are being marked by senior police in a move aimed at tackling the Mr Bigs of organised crime.

Police Scotland is targeting the top 20% of Scotland's gangsters and has revealed that it plans to restrict their travel, associates and day-to-day lives.

The Scottish Government has given its backing to new serious crime prevention orders (SCPO) to restrict serious criminals orchestrating their empires from behind bars or after their release.

The orders which have been referred to as "super Asbos", include restricting how much money they can carry and who they can meet.

A consultation on their implementation was conducted last year and officials are now looking at how best to introduce them.

New figures show there are some 225 organised crime groups in Scotland with 3300 members.

Assistant Chief Constable Ruaridh Nicholson said in the past nine months they have denied organised crime £62million of business and see the orders as a way to increase the crackdown.

"We see these orders as a good way forward in terms of making sure that those involved in serious organised crime do not have the opportunity to generate illegal income," he said.

"The orders include restrictions on travel. We would like to look at the full range of different ways to restrict and control those involved in organised crime. Each order would vary depending on the person's involvement in the organisation. We see it as a real opportunity to suppress serious organised crime. We also need to capitalise on the legislation we already have.

"The fact we have joined the forces across the country means we have a much better understanding of organised crime. The tentacles of serious organised crime cover the whole country, even rural communities in Shetland."

He added: "We are now focusing on the top 20% of the 225 groups. We are making sure we have an absolute focus on them. Every individual crime group in that top 20% - 45-50 groups - is allocated a specific officer. They take ownership of tackling that group."

He said Police Scotland will also be cracking down this year on the facilitators of organised crime, including the accountants and lawyers who help known gangsters with money laundering. He also revealed that its new Fugitive Unit has made 75 arrests in its first nine months. The national unit, created last year identifies Scots criminals hiding abroad and foreign criminals hiding here.

Some 90% of the arrests so far involved European arrest warrants to send wanted foreign criminals back to their country of origin and 10% have involved the return of Scots criminals from abroad.

Last week the unit was involved in the arrest of convicted fraudster Michael Voudouri in Cyprus where he is now remanded in custody.

ACC Nicholson said as a result of the national unit the time taken to implement European arrest warrants has been speeded up from several months to weeks.

"It is about finding people trying to escape justice by moving jurisdiction," he said. "It is all about working together with other jurisdictions and supporting them."

This month gangster Allan Smith was brought to justice after five years on the run. He admitted his role in drug dealing. Officers tracked him down to the Dutch island of Zeeland, where he was running a gym and teaching martial arts.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We believe that the introduction of serious crime prevention orders will give law enforcement agencies another vital tool in their kit.

"The Scottish Government consulted on the introductions of SCPOs and is analysing the responses to consider how best to take this policy forward. We remain in dialogue with the UK Government on how we could best introduce legislation around these."

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