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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Intelligence system 'years ahead'
Sir Michael Bichard
Sir Michael Bichard conducted an inquiry into vetting procedures
A database holding police intelligence on known criminals in Scotland is said to be years ahead of England and Wales.

An inquiry into vetting mistakes which failed to track Soham killer Ian Huntley has examined intelligence databases across the UK.

Scotland's police forces are able to use the Scottish Intelligence Database (Sid).

But in England and Wales, only three forces out of 43 currently use a "flagging-up" system.

Huntley is serving two life sentences for the murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in August 2002.

Sid has improved joint operations between forces
Det Chief Insp John McSporran
Strathclyde Police
Sir Michael Bichard's report on police and vetting procedures found failings in the senior management at Humberside Police, which either deleted or failed to retain records on Huntley's past.

The 16-day inquiry heard that Cambridgeshire Police allowed Huntley to pass vetting checks to get his job and the Humberside force deleted its records of previous sex allegations against Huntley.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said the clarity and transparency of the Sid system were vital to police.

'Valuable tool'

A spokesman said: "Those engaged in the fight against crime at all levels, particularly in the most dangerous categories, will be provided with an important and valuable tool."

The Sid system was developed in 2000 and trialled by Strathclyde Police between July 2002 and August 2003.

Five out of the country's eight forces now operate the system, with the remainder due to use it by autumn this year.

The five-year project is expected to cost 11m to implement.

It enables Scotland's police officers to track the movements of known criminals when they move through different force boundaries.

Ian Huntley
Huntley murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman

Police believe that the Sid system could have flagged-up concerns regarding Huntley.

Detective Chief Inspector John McSporran, an intelligence expert with Strathclyde Police, helped to develop the system.

He said: "Beforehand, a criminal could exist on each force system without them knowing about each other.

"Sid has improved joint operations between forces because we are immediately aware that another force may have an interest in an individual we are also looking at."

The system has been "a significant step" for Scotland's police forces, he added.

'Excellent job'

"If they move across a force boundary into another force area you would expect the police to know and talk to one another and share information because that helps keep the public safe," he said.

The Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SSTA) welcomed the Bichard report.

SSTA general secretary David Eaglesham said: "The Bichard Inquiry has done an excellent job in highlighting the important issues which arise from the tragic events in Soham.

"There are major implications in the findings for everyone involved in education in Scotland and these must be acted upon promptly and effectively."

Mr Eaglesham said the SSTA would raise a number of issues for clarification with First Minister Jack McConnell.

These included the issue of overseas checks and the lack of reference to existing professional bodies.


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