Police Priority was "Actionable Intelligence"

Armed police posing at Glasgow airport

A freedom of information response from Strathclyde Police, dated 29 January 2010, gives an interesting picture of the development of the Prevent strategy in Scotland.

Prevent was at that time controversial because of its alleged role in intelligence gathering, highlighted in particular by a report by Arun Kundnani entitled "Spooked: How not to Prevent Violent Extremism". Proponents of Prevent tended to claim that these allegations were misleading or exaggerated. But the statement from Strathclyde Police puts a heavy and unashamed emphasis on the intelligence-gathering aspect of Prevent.

The Prevent strategy was revised in 2011; this is still (Spring 2017) the current version, although an imminent further revision was announced by the UK Government late in 2016. According to the current policy (Contest: The United Kingdom's Strategy for Countering Terrorism, July 2011, Section 5.27 ) "Prevent is not a means for spying or for other covert activity." But it is difficult to believe that the Scottish police interest in intelligence has really changed, even if they are now a little more coy about it.

Response from Strathclyde Police

29 January 2010

 1. Please outline the activities undertaken by Strathclyde Police in each year since 2007 in connection with the "Prevent" strand of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy ("Contest"), and any planned future activities.

Strathclyde Police Force Executive has included Counter Terrorism within the very high priorities of the Force Strategic Assessment. The force is committed to the United Kingdom counter terrorism strategy known as CONTEST, the Head of the Counter Terrorist Intelligence Section (CTIS) and other senior management within CTIS regularly reinforce to all staff the importance of the CONTEST strategy.

The Force’s priority in respect of CONTEST Prevent is to gather actionable intelligence in relation to International Terrorism, Irish Related Terrorism, domestic extremism and public order matters. Priority is the continued development of intelligence sources reporting on those issues impacting particularly against International Terrorism and especially those where there is direct impact at domestic level. Intelligence management is part of the development and all intelligence in regards to Terrorism will be subject to the principals of the Scottish Intelligence Database (SID) and to ensure appropriate and timeous dissemination to appropriate specialist departments and partner agencies who are all embraced within the PREVENT strand of CONTEST.

As part of the communication process, CTIS are responsible for the promotion of effective communication with front line officers and members of police staff. This is achieved via liaison meetings and presentations to territorial Divisions, Departments and other partner agencies to ensure that intelligence requirements are clearly understood. In addition, training inputs are provided to key development courses at the Force Training & Recruitment Centre, the Scottish Police College, with particular emphasis focused on national Counter Terrorism (CT) Operations such as Operations Lightning, Trammel and Camion (now collectively known as REFRACT) and the ‘Rich Picture’ intelligence requirements.

As previously stated, our Control Strategy identifies the most significant threats or risks that the force must successfully overcome to serve our local community and play our part in national and international enforcement. Information relating to our Control Strategy can be accessed at the following link:
http://www.strathclyde.police.uk/index.asp?locID=347&docID=-1 [ed: Web page no longer available, but documents covering Control Strategy in 2010 can be found here and  here (pdf documents)]

Furthermore, I have detailed below information relating to the force Control Strategy 2008/09 in relation to Counter Terrorism priorities integrated with the CONTEST Strategy.

Force Control Strategy 2008/2009

Counter Terrorism Priorities integrated with the Contest Strategy

Intelligence Priorities          Enforcement Priorities          Prevention Priorities

Prevent

Gather and develop intelligence on terrorist and extremist networks and individuals, including those involved in recruitment, radicalisation, facilitation and attack planning.

Counter patterns of terrorist and extremist activities within our communities by intervention and community reassurance.

Pursue

Deter, detect and disrupt networks and individuals engaged in terrorist and extremist activity.

Protect

Continue the development of Counter Terrorism and extremist engagement.

Assist and support our partner agencies to monitor travel patterns within the UK and to enhance and maintain effective border controls.

Prepare

Continue development of the capacity and capability of the Force to respond to terrorist activity.

On 1 November 2007, Delphinus was launched within Strathclyde Police by (the then) ACC Jim Green to the territorial Divisional ‘Champions’. Delphinus is a means of delivering the four ‘Ps’ of the CONTEST Strategy, where the police and partners engage and deliver at a local level on seven priorities. Consequently, each division within the force has formed a CT Governance Group (CTGG) which is now known as DELPHINUS Groups to co-ordinate and focus divisional activity under the overarching concept of Delphinus. As previously stated, the Delphinus concept centres on a seven point programme of activity, which includes Ownership, Policing Plan, Partnership, Community, Briefing, Response and Intelligence. Each territorial division has an established Delphinus Group, all delivering on the seven point plan. This is now 'day to day' business within Strathclyde Police.

In 2009, a CONTEST co-ordinator was appointed, namely Det Supt David Leitch. In addition, two Prevent co-ordinators Inspectors David Andrew and Alan Graham were appointed within the force. Both these officers are attached to Community Safety and are responsible for Prevent activity throughout the force area. One of the products which they deliver is the Act Now exercise.

‘Act Now’ is a 'table top' style exercise designed to achieve interaction between people from different communities, cultures and faiths, and puts under the spotlight the procedures and thought processes involved in arriving at decisions. The exercise takes place in a safe and confidential environment in which the extremely sensitive issues around terrorism can be discussed.

The ‘Act Now’ session is designed to allow debate around the sensitive issues of extremism within communities. As such it is an enabler for community participants to air grievances, debate matters of interest to them and work through a group problem solving experience.

‘Act Now’ is an exercise that operates in a safe community space where participants feel they have the confidence to discuss the issues in a location where they have an affinity and a sense of community.

The exercise lasts about 2 hours and is set in a fictional town. Delegates are given background information about the facilities / make up of the town and thereafter assume the role of Counter Terrorism officers for the duration of the exercise.

Delegates are told that they are going to be dealing with a possible terrorist incident and that information will be given during the exercise as if it was a real incident. The delegates will be asked to make decisions based upon this information and be prepared to explain decisions made.

Such is the success of these events and as positive comments are cascaded within the community, there has been a significant increase in the number of events facilitated by the Prevent co-ordinators within the force.

2. Please state the budget available to Strathclyde Police for this purpose in each year since 2007 and the budget anticipated for future years.
3. Please state the funds spent in each year since 2007 in connection with "Prevent"

Your request for information has now been considered and I can advise you that Strathclyde Police does not hold any of the information requested by you. In terms of Section 17 of the Act, this letter represents a formal notice that information is not held.

By way of information, as stated above, Prevent has become part of the day to day business for all members of Strathclyde Police, therefore, I am unable to stipulate a budget available to the force for this purpose as such information is not collated, accordingly, I am also unable to state the funds spent, in connection with Prevent, each year since 2007

Photo: Armed Police at Glasgow Airport, May 2012. Photo © Hazelisles, some rights reserved