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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Plea for drug agency
drugs and needle
The agency had "performed remarkably" to combat drugs
A government inspector has recommended that an agency set up to combat drugs in Scotland should be given more powers and support.

A report, released on Thursday, said the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) had performed remarkably well but needed further development.

Its author was chief inspector of constabulary, Sir Roy Cameron, who carried out an inspection of the service on behalf of the UK Government.

He said that the three-year-old organisation's influence had been evident in the development of intelligence-led policing in Scotland to combat serious and organised crime.

The Paisley organisation has also been praised by the Scottish Executive for its work.

Sir Roy said: "The UK Government's commitment to address organised crime is enshrined in international agreements and it is important that Scotland plays its part in meeting these obligations.

"The agency was found to have contributed significantly to the co-ordinated response of Scottish policing to drugs trafficking and the wider issues of organised crime."

Organised crime

On the scale of the challenge, Sir Roy added: "The threat posed by drugs to Scottish communities remains all too apparent and drugs trafficking remains the main challenge to law enforcement in dealing with organised crime.

"However, organised crime is global in its nature and its focus is constantly changing as profit margins alter.

"It is a complex issue and one which requires a high level of sophistication on the part of law enforcement."

Sir Roy also welcomed the expansion of the SDEA to encompass the Scottish Money Laundering Unit, the Scottish Witness Liaison Unit and the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit in Scotland.

We are providing record funding to tackle drugs and deliver our multi-million pound drugs strategy which covers prevention, education, treatment and care, and balances enforcement measures with action to reduce demand.
Hugh Henry
Deputy Justice Minister
In its recommendations, the report called for an assessment of the agency's aims and objectives to enable it to respond to both serious and organised crime.

It also called for the development of a clear strategy for the Scottish police service's response to organised crime.

And it recommended the introduction of clearer systems of public performance reporting for joint operations as well as a review of the agency's performance management arrangements.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry welcomed the work of the organisation.

He said: "The Scottish Executive takes very seriously the threat to Scottish society from drug crime and from other serious and organised crime.

"The SDEA has proven itself in the short time since it was established and the executive has pledged to back it."

The minister said the number of seizures of Class A drugs had increased four-fold in the past year, while there was a 22% rise in arrests as a result of SDEA activities.

Long term future

Mr Henry added: "We are providing record funding to tackle drugs and deliver our multi-million pound drugs strategy which covers prevention, education, treatment and care, and balances enforcement measures with action to reduce demand.

"This is an excellent report from the HMIC for the SDEA and for its director.

"But there is further work to be done and I note, for example, the report's clear expectation that there should be a separate and distinct legal identity for the agency in the future.

"Along with the HMICs other recommendations, it will be important to take this into account in planning for the agency's long term future."

The inspection was carried out during November and December last year and was the first since the agency was set up.

BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie
"The report is critical of Scotland's police chiefs"

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