Edinburgh: An independent Scotland could leave all parts of Britain more vulnerable to terrorist attack due to the risk of communication failure between intelligence services, a former top police officer has warned.
Graeme Pearson, who was formerly director general of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), said having two intelligence services rather than one would create “a minefield of challenges” in the fight against terrorism.
“The arrival of a possibility of Scottish independence amidst the creation of a single police force [in Scotland], if not properly thought through, will go a long way to creating more national ‘boundaries and hurdles’ than ever existed before,” Pearson wrote in Scotland on Sunday.
“My policing experience taught me the lesson that too often the prevention of terrorist outrages and subsequent investigations fail not because the intelligence and evidence wasn’t available, but because agencies, departments or divisions had failed, often due to the competition that exists between agencies, to share their knowledge effectively,” he added.
According to The Scotsman, Pearson stressed that continuing to rely on London-based intelligence agencies such as MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) after independence would be “untenable”.
He pointed out that a separate Scottish Government would face a difficult task in creating a Scottish version of the services from scratch as they would require skills and techniques beyond those used by police forces north of the Border.
“An independent Scottish Government would want to see its national security capacity directly answerable to Scottish ministers. The notion that MI5 and SIS might engage with Scottish issues, but report to Westminster ministers, looks untenable,” Pearson said.