ARGYLL and Bute Council and Strathclyde Police have taken a major step forward in driving out serious and organised crime from the area.
On Monday 12 November, the council’s chief executive, Sally Loudon and Divisional Commander Barry McEwan signed an information sharing protocol as part of a wider national campaign focusing on serious and organised crime.
The Scottish Government is leading on the issue, focusing on raising awareness and moving beyond enforcement to involve other partners. All public agencies, local businesses and people have a part to play in combating the demand for the products of serious and organised crimes. These include, for example, fake goods, smuggled cigarettes and illegal drugs which are on sale in communities across Scotland, including Argyll and Bute. In addition, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is lost each year to apparently legitimate companies who tender for council contracts across Scotland.
Monday’s event, in the council headquarters at Kilmory, brought together representatives from Argyll and Bute Council, Strathclyde Police, Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership and people from local communities. By working together, they can all help to stop criminals winning lucrative local authority contracts.
Presentations from the police and partner organisations highlighted the way that serious and organised crime can impact on all areas of the council’s work – communities, education, care, procurement, licensing, trading standards, environment health and benefits.
The signing of the information sharing protocol means that Strathclyde Police can provide Argyll and Bute Council with details of criminals and illegal activities and ensure that no contracts are awarded to anyone who could benefit from serious or organised crime.
Argyll and Bute Council leader, Roddy McCuish, said: “Serious and organised crime can cause devastating harm to our communities and bring misery to people’s lives through violence, crime and addiction.
“It is vital to work together to tackle the blight of serious and organised crime and ensure that there are positive alternatives, especially for our young people. The council is committed to playing its part and take every step to ensure that our service contracts and business are not given to those who engage in criminal practices. Signing this protocol is a significant step in that process.”
Chief Superintendent Barry McEwan, Divisional Commander of Strathclyde Police, added: “We are absolutely determined to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal gangs. It is unacceptable that the hard-working, honest people of Argyll and Bute pay their taxes only for some of their money to end up in the pockets of those involved in organised crime.
“This event and the signing of the improved information sharing protocol shows that we ensure that scarce resources are only spent on legitimate companies who deserve to win contracts. All the agencies who are here today are committed to driving out organised crime from local communities and improve the lives of decent people.”