Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 13:07 UK

Elite intelligence unit to 'take down' crime lords

Artist's impression of joint campus building
The unit will eventually be based at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh

An elite unit aimed at tackling organised crime, human trafficking and serious fraud has been officially opened by the justice secretary.

Kenny MacAskill said the Scottish Intelligence Co-ordination Unit (SICU) would gather information about top gangsters in a bid to "take them down."

It is part of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).

The unit will be housed in Livingston until the new Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, opens in 2012.

It was created to act as the "brain" of law enforcement in Scotland, bringing together intelligence and finance specialists.

They will work closely with the country's eight police forces and co-ordinate and assess knowledge about the activities of criminal gangs, to develop more effective ways of preventing, detecting and dismantling serious organised crime.

The unit will also be home to Scotland's first dedicated expert resources for the co-ordination of intelligence on human trafficking, and serious and complex fraud.

The more we know about the 'who, what and how' of organised crime's activities, the better equipped we are to bring them down.
Deputy Ch Con Gordon Meldrum

Mr MacAskill said: "Serious organised crime affects us all. It brings human misery and to thousands of families through the harmful drugs they peddle.

"It undermines legitimate hard-working businesses which costs our economy in jobs.

"With this exciting new development law enforcement agencies will know more about how they work than ever before - and be able to act to take them down."

He added: "Of course, we continue to need the public's help to expand our knowledge, and disrupt these criminals' operations.

"Even the smallest piece of information about an individual's lifestyle or activity can be the key that unlocks the door to disrupting an entire criminal empire."

'Powerful tool'

Dep Chf Con Gordon Meldrum, director general of the SCDEA, said: "The gathering and sharing of intelligence is a powerful tool in the fight against serious organised crime.

"The more we know about the 'who, what and how' of organised crime's activities, the better equipped we are to bring them down.

"However, knowledge is worthless unless it is turned into action. This is the central purpose of the SICU and already the entire Scottish Police Service is realising the benefits of this new resource."

In January the Scottish government insisted plans for a new crime super-campus at Gartcosh remained on track, after concerns were raised that the timetable for completion of the site had slipped due to the recession.

As well as housing the new intelligence unit, the campus will also be home to key staff from the SCDEA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the Scottish Police Services Authority forensic service, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and HM Revenue and Customs.

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