Campus latest weapon against crime

The heads of Scotland's crime-fighting agencies have met for the first time at a new £75 million base.

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Staff from all five organisations including police, forensics, customs and the prosecution service will work under the same roof at he Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh.

The four-floor, 22,500 square metre facility on the site of a former steelworks has been designed to strengthen collaboration between the agencies and their fight against organised crime and terrorism.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said the development of the facility would take Scotland's multi-agency approach "to a new level".

He said: "It now takes a network to defeat these networks.

"We now need to move onto a new level.

"An approach that is all about breaking down institutional barriers and allowing both knowledge and people to flow unhindered with a common purpose, to divert, deter, disrupt and detect serious organised crime in Scotland."

The SCC will house officers from Police Scotland's specialist crime division who will work alongside staff from Forensic Services, the National Crime Agency, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and HM Revenue and Customs.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who attended today's meeting, said the base would promote a joined-up way of working never seen before in Britain.

Sir Stephen said: "We can identify organised crime members, we can take them into custody and then work much more closely with the Crown Office to put together a prosecution, to make sure the court case is as strong as it can be.

"After that we look at the proceeds of crime issue and try to seize as much of the money that organised criminals have stolen from the public as we can."

He said: "Instead of getting an email or a written report from the Crown saying 'could you just do a bit more work on this', people are sitting close to one another and they can go and speak to each other, have a joint meeting at the drop of a hat.

"It will be a much more efficient way of working."

Crown Office staff based at Gartcosh will include members of its serious and organised crime unit and those working on so-called cold cases- crimes which may be decades old but have never resulted in a prosecution.

Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC said: "They already work closely with the police but this will give everybody the opportunity to be in the same place and in particular to take advantage of the expertise of the forensic services in the building."

The building designed by BMJ architects has a restaurant/cafe facility on the ground floor and a seating area beneath the central atrium.

Having agency members under one roof will "maximise informal opportunities" to discuss cases and make it easier to organise meetings, Ms Thomson said.

Mr MacAskill said: "From the state-of-the-art forensic laboratory to the specialist database technology, there is no doubt that communities in Scotland will be safer places as a result of this facility."

Around 150 staff from the Scottish Police Authority's Forensic Services moved onto the campus last month.

A total of around 220 are expected to be based there by the end of April.

Facilities remain in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Director Tom Nelson said: "We see this as a tremendous opportunity.

"What we have here is a wonderful facility, and we are seeing people are now having chats, coffees and meetings within this space.

"That allows us to work as a closer community."

HM Revenue and Customs will have around 150 investigators and 60 intelligence staff based at Gartcosh.

David Odd, assistant director of criminal investigation, said: "It's about blending the skills and abilities of all the different partners to the best effect in the fight against organised crime."

National Crime Agency director Keith Bristow said: "The NCA is a proud partner and we are already working closely together to cut crime and deliver better public protection."

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