Bouncers and security guards recruited to watch for extremists

Scotland's private security industry is to become part of the fight against terrorism as bouncers and door staff are trained to spot a potential attack in the run-up to Christmas.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean from OCCTU speaking during a police briefing. Picture Ian Rutherford
Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean from OCCTU speaking during a police briefing. Picture Ian Rutherford

Police Scotland’s head of organised crime and counter-terrorism said there had been a “clamour“ from the sector to be involved in police efforts aimed at preventing terror attacks.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean was talking ahead of the next month’s meeting at Tulliallan in Fife, at which Police Scotland will host representatives from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and the Security Industry Authority.

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The purpose of the event is to provide a “threat briefing” for those in the private sector.

McLean said: “Security staff are working in sports stadia, retail and in transport hubs, all areas which are part of the current threat picture and the tragic events we’ve seen across Europe.

“These are areas where there is high footfall from members of the public and could hold some appeal for those with an extremist mindset.

“While there’s no specific threat to Scotland, we are not complacent.

“At this time of year the shops are busy, people are going to nights out and enjoying themselves.

“The threat is not increased at this time of year but the impact if that threat was to manifest itself could be more severe. We’re just asking people to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.”

While police in other parts of the UK and across Europe have continued to foil potential attacks, Mr McLean said there had been nothing similar in Scotland this year.

However, he pointed to the 2007 attack on Glasgow airport and the 2015 plot to kill former Ulster Defence Association leaders Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair and Sam McCrory in Scotland.

He also praised the private security industry, despite calls from Police Scotland earlier this year to tackle organised criminal gangs operating within the sector.

He said: “Organised crime has moved into lots of different sectors and the security industry is no different – it’s been a well-worn path.

“But by and large the majority of those working in the security industry are highly professional and highly responsible.

“Anything that allows them to enhance their reputation and work more closely with the authorities is something they have a real desire to do. We’ve not found any resistance, there’s been a real clamour to take part.”