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 Police form centralised unit in bid to avoid single force

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PostSubject: Police form centralised unit in bid to avoid single force   Wed Sep 03, 2008 6:32 pm

EXCLUSIVE By Lucy Adams

Scotland's chief constables have come together to create a new centralised unit dealing with homicides and other major crimes in an attempt to avoid moves to merge the country's forces.

The unit, which is expected to cost more than £200,000 a year and will be based near Edinburgh, will pull together a detailed national database of specialist expertise in areas such as complex homicides, natural disaster and public order.

Although the centre will only have three or four staff, it will be able to put senior investigators in touch with relevant officers across Scotland as and when they are required.
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The aim will be to ensure that all eight forces have access to a pool of highly skilled officers to cope with a range of difficult cases or major events, such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The idea for the unit came from a review of the eight forces' capacity and capability following discussions in England and Wales about amalgamating forces that had fewer than 4000 officers.

The review, which was conducted by Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern, looked at the eight forces' ability to deal with a range of issues.

In addition to the new unit, which will be overseen by Lothian and Borders police on a day-to-day basis, The Herald understands that forces including Tayside, Fife and Central are making arrangements to share specialist resources such as mobile firearms response units.

Peter Wilson, chief constable of Fife and spokesman for the crime committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said: "It is about making sure we use our resources to the best possible advantage without duplicating unnecessarily.

"We recognise that we could better co-ordinate the number of people who have certain skills.

"The outcome intended is that the collaborative working of all eight forces will be able to rely on others and to ensure that at any time we have enough specialists trained in Scotland if we need to work across force boundaries."

Chief constables north of the Border have been fighting moves to merge all Scotland's forces into one or amalgamate services.

Paddy Tomkins, Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, has made it clear he would prefer to see one force and the creation of the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA) last year led to increasing disquiet about unspoken plans to centralise the forces.

Mr Wilson said: "We believe this will also provide cost savings as it will mean certain forces will not have to train up officers in certain areas. We will still look for expertise from further afield.

"This is not about us becoming parochial. Currently, for example, the expert on prostitute murders would come from Suffolk, but it is about having a way of recording that centrally rather than relying on people's memories.

"This is not just about homicides and is not about smaller forces getting help from bigger forces. It is much broader than that and I think it will evolve in line with usage."

Force heads have become increasingly concerned in recent months about so-called "land-grabbing" by the SPSA, the body set up by the previous administration to offer centralised support services.

Although plans to amalgamate forces in England and Wales were rejected, the idea is still mooted in Scotland from time to time.

Unsolved murders
# Scotland has 49 unsolved murders.

# Strathclyde police has 31 unsolved homicides which took place a year ago or more.

# The most infamous case remains that of Bible John whose three victims - Patricia Docker, Mima McDonald and Helen Puttock - were all from Glasgow.

# There are four unsolved murders in Grampian, the oldest being the case of Brenda Page who was killed in Aberdeen in July 1978.

# Lothian and Borders has nine unsolved cases. The killings of David McMenigall in 1966 and Helen Kane in 1970 also remain unresolved.

# Fife and Tayside constabularies have one outstanding homicide each.
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PostSubject: Pat Mcadam   Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:04 pm

Collapse of World's End murder case puts pressure on prosecution of 'historic' crimes
By John Bynorth, Home Affairs Editor

WHEN THOMAS Ross Young appeared in court charged with the murder of 17-year-old Patricia McAdam her family believed a 40-year wait for justice might finally be over.

Today, almost a year later, the prospects of a prosecution are fading and there are fears that other long-standing crimes may never be taken to court.

Legal experts believe that a review published by the Crown Office last month into the failed prosecution of the "World's End murders" will make it more difficult to take action on historic unsolved cases.


Now though, speculation is mounting that the prosecution of a man accused of one of Scotland's longest-running murder cases will be dropped.

McAdam's body was never found when she disappeared after hitching a lift with a friend in a lorry from Glasgow to Dumfries on February 19, 1967.

Her case predated the murders of Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, who were last seen at the World's End public house in Edinburgh, in 1977.

Less than a year ago Lord Clarke threw out the case against convicted killer and sex attacker Angus Sinclair at the High Court in Edinburgh for the murders of Scott and Eadie.

This month the Crown Office produced an internal review of the handling of the World's End case which made a number of recommendations for improvements, which have not been made public.

Two weeks ago, Devon and Cornwall Police decided not to charge the convicted child killer Robert Black with the murder of Genette Tate, a 13-year-old girl who vanished during her paper round in Devon in 1978, after the Crown Prosecution Service cited "insufficient evidence", Black is serving 10 life sentences in a high-security prison for the abduction and murders of schoolgirls Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper.

And three months after the collapse of the World's End case taxi driver Vincent Simpson was cleared of the murder of Dundee trainee nurse Elizabeth McCabe, 20, in 1980 after the credibility of DNA evidence linking him to the crime came under fire.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has now informed McAdam's relatives that no indictment is to be served "meantime" on Young, although the procedings will remain active against him.

Robert Black, professor emeritus in Scottish law at Edinburgh University, told the Sunday Herald that difficulties in preserving DNA evidence and the ability of an accused's defence to highlight flaws in witness recall could make it increasingly difficult to bring so-called historical cases to trial.

He said: "World's End was an example of how historical cases can pose difficult decisions for the Crown. After decades, people's memories fade and the Crown Office must ask whether the evidence is now strong enough for there to be any reasonable likelihood of a conviction.

"It's no use putting prosecution witnesses through the ordeal of a trial if they are going to be crucified by the defence about what they saw and knew, but may have forgotten.

"If there are clear DNA profiles - and there are not the difficulties with DNA evidence that existed in the World's End case - it's easier. But if such a case is dependent on eyewitness testimony, the more difficult it is for the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it would be safe to convict."

The disappearance of Patricia McAdam in 1967 led to the largest search ever undertaken by Dumfries and Galloway Police until the 1988 Lockerbie disaster with hundreds of officers, supported by teams from forces in Glasgow and England and Wales and unprecedented coverage in newspapers and on TV.

Detectives dug up moorland near where she was last seen and drafted in a Dutch clairyovant, Gerard Croiset, who told police the factory worker's body was dumped in a river. Despite Croiset's claims, McAdam's remains were never traced and the force re-investigated the case as a murder inquiry following a cold case review in 2004.

Retired Detective Superintendent Bill Gillis, Dumfries and Galloway Police's former head of CID, who won the support of his then superiors to reopen the case and lead the Pat McAdam reinvestigation, said: "There was a thorough investigation at the time and it was a significant challenge to reinvestigate the case for my officers. We used the knowledge of the officers at the time to piece together information.

"The case had a big impact on Dumfries and we had an astonishing amount of assistance from the public after we launched a fresh appeal. Everybody remembered where they were when Pat McAdam disappeared.

"But the whole point was to bring some closure to Pat's family. I feel sorry for them. They have been looking for somewhere to grieve, but have not been able to do it."

The COPFS said in a statement: "A report on the re-investigation has been submitted to Crown counsel, who have instructed that no indictment is to be served meantime on Thomas Ross Young. No final decision has been taken in the case, and it therefore remains live. Any additional evidence will be reported for consideration by Crown counsel."

It added that McAdam's next of kin had been advised of the Crown counsel's decision.

David Dunlop, the husband of Pat McAdam's sister, Wendy, said: "The whole case has been going on far too long now. She will not comment." The victim's other siblings Eleanor and Neil also declined to comment.

Young's lawyer John McLeod also refused to discuss the case.
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