TWO Polish police officers have joined Scotland's national force in a pioneering move to tackle criminality in the country's biggest migrant community.

The men have been seconded for six months as a pilot scheme that may be expanded in the future as EU law enforcement agencies tighten co-operation.

Senior officers at Police Scotland say the two officers have already helped on crucial inquiries involving Poles as perpetrators, victims or witnesses of crimes.

Chief Superintendent Paul Main said: "They are here to advise us and to help us on criminal and other inquiries. "They don't have the power to arrest anybody or question anybody so they are always with Scottish officers.

"But they can assist us with understanding cultural and linguistic issues and connecting with law enforcement in Poland to deal with everything from organised crime to domestic abuse."

There is no suggestion of unusually high criminality in Scotland's Polish community. However, last year it emerged that nine per cent of all police incidents involve a foreign national, a figure thought to have more than doubled since mass EU migration began a decade ago.

Some seven per cent of the Scottish population was born outside the UK, according to the last census, a figure mirrored by the share of foreign nationals in custody.

However, dealing with foreign nationals who come into contact with the police, whether as suspects or victims, poses serious challenges to a force not nearly as diverse as the country it polices.

The higher nine-percent figure for those "involved in an incident" is explained because incidents can feature more than one individual, as victim, perpetrator or witness.

Police Scotland has already recruited a handful local Scottish-based Poles as officers and it has access to translators and other experts. The Polish officers, however, bring a whole different set of skills, including familiarity with procedures in Poland, a country that accounts for more European Arrest Warrants for suspects in Scotland than any other. Scottish officers also deal with numerous missing persons inquiries involving Poles, either in Scotland or in Poland.

The two officers, who have not been named, are based at Police Scotland's Crime Campus at Gartcosh but have been used across the country. They are paid their usual Polish salary and then an allowance by Police Scotland to ensure they can cope with the higher cost of living here.

The Metropolitan Police has had seconded Polish and Romanian officers for some time. Mr Main said that Police Scotland would review the success of the current secondment at the end of the summer to see whether it could be expanded, both with new Poles and officers from other countries.

Senior officers, meanwhile, stress that Europol remains the main connection with EU law enforcement as Police Scotland raises its game to tackle increasingly internationalised crime.

Polish groups have previously called for officers from their homeland to help police Scotland.

Maciej Dokurno of Fife Migrant Forum, who previously trained Scottish police in how to deal with his compatriots, said: "I don't think the Polish community would particularly want to see Polish officers patrol Scottish streets, but they would welcome their help in training officers here and provide valuable contacts in helping with issues like missing persons. There are lots of cases when somebody goes missing from Scotland or Poland and turns up in the other country."

However, Poles would also like to see Scottish police raises their knowledge of migrant communities, including learning the language. Mr Dokurno has suggested Scottish officers should be seconded to forces in Poland. English police, meanwhile, last summer began their first secondments to Spain to help local law enforcement handle British tourists.