MSPs vote for bill to tackle organised crime in UK
HOLYROOD last night backed Westminster plans to introduce a new FBI-style crime-fighting agency in a bill that will also extend the powers of a private security industry watchdog to Scotland.
MSPs voted by 64 to 57 to pass a Sewel motion, which transfers legislative powers to Westminster.
Scotland will now come under the UK Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, after plans to include new anti-trespass powers for the Executive were dropped.
That U-turn, by Labour justice minister Cathy Jamieson on Tuesday, prevented a backbench rebellion among her Lib Dem coalition partners who said anti-trespass powers were unnecessary and could undermine the right to roam enshrined in the 2003 Land Reform (Scotland) Act.
The new bill will bring together crime-fighting bodies and HM Customs in a UK-wide Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and will also extend the regulatory powers of the Security Industry Authority to Scotland.
Ms Jamieson said the bill would "enhance" the response of the UK and Scotland to international and serious crime.
But opposition MSPs voted against the Sewel motion, arguing that the bill’s measures were too far-reaching for Scots law, and the largely devolved area of policing, to be left to Westminster. This echoed police concern over the bill’s effect on the independence of Scottish forces.
Ms Jamieson said the Executive had secured safeguards. "No Soca agent will be able to use police powers in Scotland without the general agreement of Scottish ministers and the specific authorisation of a Scottish chief police officer, and Soca agents operating in Scotland will be subject to the direction of the Lord Advocate," she told MSPs.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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