Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Scotland in fear : Police ready 'terror plans' for population centres

Long gone are the days of peaceful living in Scotland, as the necessity for significant steps to secure public safety in the face of terrorism threats take shape, with the latest revelation that Police are compiling ‘terror plans’ for all local communities in Scotland. Prudent move in terms of security it may be, but scary none the less .. (and a sad reflection on our time – Ed)

The Herald reports :

Police compiling terrorism plan for every local community

LUCY ADAMS, Chief Reporter April 01 2009

Police are compiling a detailed terror plan of every local community, identifying individuals, areas and landmarks of particular concern in a bid to achieve greater co-operation from local authorities and health boards.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) wants to use the local profiles to persuade councils and other bodies to improve security in shopping centres and licensed premises - partly in response to specific intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda is looking to cause "mass casualties".

The move comes as tens of thousands of French, German and British police officers moved into position in cities on both sides of the Rhine and in London ahead of tomorrow's G20 summit involving Barack Obama and other world leaders.

Large cities such as Glasgow may have more than one plan, detailing how many individuals are thought to be a threat, how many buildings need extra protection and what level of emergency measures should be in place.

Senior police hope the profiles will motivate planning departments and other partners to take a more active role in countering the threat of extremism, whether by improving security at city-centre car parks or encouraging social work departments to offer particular individuals more support.

Counter-terrorist specialists will be working alongside others in anticipation of mass protests.

Assistant Chief Constable Allan Burnett, the Acpos co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, said: "We are working on counter-terrorist local profiles which will have a restricted level assessment of, for example, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and we will be sharing these with key partners.

"Rather than me just saying to the chief executive of Glasgow, trust me you've got a problem, we will be giving them intelligence and this will help to get people on board.

"We might want them to influence their planning department to ensure they have counter-terrorism built into security of buildings, ensuring the passes are secure and that car parks are safe."

The move comes just a week after the UK Government unveiled Contest 2, its comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy which includes plans to train civic society in how to confront those who "threaten democracy".

Some 60,000 shop, hotel and service-industry staff will be trained to deal with terrorist threats under the scheme. More than 5000 shopkeepers, managers and security staff have already been trained in Scotland.

Mr Burnett added: "If you're saying, please do this without telling people what they've got in their local areas and being all secretive about it', you're going to get a knock-back.

"Partnership is key to it all. There are big data protection issues which everyone would expect us to handle appropriately.

"There might be more than one profile for some cities and we might have one for some whole forces. It is proportionality. It shows the level of detail that is involved."

Acpos has also conducted a review of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, the stop-and-search power used by police at ports and airports, following complaints from black and minority ethnic groups that they felt victimised.

Acpos ran focus groups in Glasgow and Edinburgh to gauge the views of different age groups. A new information leaflet explaining the rights of passengers and police is to be launched this week as a result.

Officers are also now being trained in behavioural assessment - to allow them to make accurate judgments on travellers. Hundreds of people are stopped and searched under the powers at Scottish ports and airports every year.

"We have done a review of Schedule 7 - the power to stop and examine anyone at a port or airport and in the minority ethnic communities this is a big concern," said Mr Burnett.

"We had four focus-group meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow and did a lot of work on the threat. We've taken steps to ensure the police properly identify themselves and taken steps to clarify what the police powers are under Schedule 7.

"They wanted the police to know about their culture and cultural taboos."

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