Monday, April 20, 2009

Law & Order : Linlithgow Police Station MICDU named ‘nerve centre’ against crime

Its not quite Jack Bauer from television’s “24” but Scotland’s MICDU (Major Incident Co-ordination and Development Unit) at Linlithgow Police Station is the ‘nerve centre’ for Scotland’s crime fighting units. (Bring Jack over to show them how it’s really done ! – Ed)

The Scotsman reports :

This is no ordinary office, it's the nerve centre in Scotland's fight against crime

Published Date: 20 April 2009
By Michael Howie
Home affairs correspondent

KITTED out with the usual mundane furniture, the small office above Linlithgow Police Station appears entirely unremarkable.

The diminutive white sign outside, marked "MICDU", hints at nothing more interesting than perhaps the presence of a local legal or insurance firm.

But this unassuming office is now a vital nerve centre in Scotland's fight against terrorism and serious crime.

The Major Incident Co-ordination and Development Unit is also at the epicentre of the ongoing debate about the future of Scotland's police.

From within its plain white walls, a small team of police officers are sending Scotland's elite police investigators to help local detectives crack murders, kidnappings and other serious crimes.

In a move that will be seen by some as a step towards the creation of a single police force in Scotland, The Scotsman can reveal that 400 of the country's leading police specialists – whose expertise ranges from murder and counter-terrorism investigation to identifying victims of major disasters – are now on stand-by to boost local police inquiries.

Already, officers from across Scotland have been drafted by MICDU to boost complex inquiries including a murder in Dundee and a string of kidnappings.

MICDU was created in September last year but only became fully operational this month. It was established following a internal police review led by Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern Constabulary, which identified "gaps" in the ability of police forces to cope with major incidents and inquiries.

Tom Halpin, deputy chief constable at Lothian and Borders, which is in charge of running the unit, said: "It is allowing local forces to play their part in providing a solution to the issue of national police delivery."

Small forces such as Northern and Dumfries and Galloway constabularies are not the only ones which have struggled to cope with a coincidence of serious crime inquiries, or a major incident, Mr Halpin stresses.

"There is a tendency to think this is a small force problem. But the experiences of larger forces has proved that capacity issues affect all of Scotland when the largest of incidents strike.

"The point of it is to improve the quality of investigation. Before, support from different forces was very ad hoc," he said.

The other main purpose of MICDU is to ensure specialists are trained in the latest techniques in areas like victim identification, interviewing suspects and bomb investigation.

Gareth Blair, the detective chief inspector in charge of major investigation support, said: "The whole ethos of the unit is that when you need the resources there, you press the button and you get it."

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