Source: The Scotsman
SPECIAL Branch detectives are to go into Scottish schools as part of a major intelligence-gathering exercise to combat the terrorist threat from al-Qaeda.
A pilot scheme has been set up in Tayside which will see Special Branch establish contact with secondary schools by the end of this year. According to Tayside Police Chief Constable John Vine, officers from a special branch community contact unit will begin speaking to senior pupils and teachers in secondary schools in Angus later this year. Talks are under way between police and education authorities about similar schemes in Dundee, and Perth and Kinross.
"We want young people to tell us if they are aware of anything suspicious happening in their communities," Mr Vine said. He added that he hoped the operation would be able to identify any signs that young people themselves may be receiving extremist Islamic teachings.
"What we have to change is the mindset which questions whether it is appropriate to gather intelligence in schools," said Mr Vine
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the EIS, said "I think many people would think it was unnecessary to have police in schools for intelligence-gathering purposes. If there was some sort of presumption that there was an enemy in our midst that we were trying to weed out then I would be concerned. Youngsters need to be aware of the issue of terrorism, including the causes, in a rounded educational way rather than purely from the perspective of the security services. Schools shouldn't be places where security service agencies plough their furrow."