SCOTLAND’S largest squad of detectives has been assembled before the launch of the new Police Scotland force.
The Specialist Crime Division (SCD), which includes 1,800 detectives, has taken responsibility for major crimes, such as murder, rape, human trafficking and counter-terrorism in a landmark day for policing.
Police Scotland does not come into force until 1 April, but the SCD has been launched earlier to ease pressure on day one.
Murders will be investigated by three teams in the east, west or north of Scotland. Other major crimes, such as rape, attempted murder and serious assault, will be investigated by officers in each of the new 14 divisions across Scotland.
Specialist national rape teams will be brought in to handle the most complicated cases, regardless of where they take place.
The SCD has also underlined the importance of intelligence by creating a National Intelligence Bureau, which will provide information on missing persons, crime patterns and gangs.
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, head of the SCD, said: “Serious crime, wherever it occurs and however it manifests itself, is an attack on the safety of our communities.
“Threat and harm posed by those who commit violence, engage in organised crime, undermine public safety through being involved in terrorism or prey on the most vulnerable in society will be targeted. Criminals have no regard for boundaries and borders.
“The creation of a national capability in the SCD will give us increased flexibility to go where they go and target them where they operate.”
The SCD brings together officers from the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), specialist officers covering areas such as rape and counter-terrorism, and detective superintendents leading CID work in each of the 14 divisions.
Despite its wide remit, the SCD features less than a sixth of the overall officers being transferred to Police Scotland.
“We think it’s very lean,” said DCC Livingstone. “We’ve made it very effective, but also very efficient. That was part of the principles behind police reform.”
The SCD will also link in with other public-sector bodies to try and divert young people, particularly vulnerable young males, away from crime and into housing, training and jobs.
One of the key principles of reform has been giving police from smaller, more remote parts of Scotland access to the resources and expertise that is built up in the big cities.
Justice secretary Kenny Mac-Askill said: “The Specialist Crime Division will be a key strength and a significant benefit of the new single service – using national expertise delivered locally to tackle major crimes and serious organised crime.”