Con­cern voiced over ter­ror re­sponse

The Oban Times - - News -

SAFETY on the West Coast’s fer­ries and in ru­ral ar­eas will be dis­cussed at a gov­ern­ment level, af­ter a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer voiced fears over the force’s abil­ity to deal with ter­ror at­tacks.

The Oban Times raised the mat­ter with is­lands and trans­port min­is­ter Humza Yousaf when he vis­ited Mull this week.

As Counter Ter­ror­ism Aware­ness Week was launched across Scot­land, Mr Yousaf said he was con­cerned to hear that staff work­ing on trans­port sys­tems and in ru­ral po­lice of­fices were be­ing put in the fir­ing line.

Many staff mem­bers and po­lice of­fi­cers who have ap­proached The

Oban Times feel they have noth­ing to use against ter­ror­ists if the un­think­able were to hap­pen.

Is­land and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are con­sid­ered ‘soft tar­gets’ by ter­ror­ists, but as one se­nior Ar­gyll po­lice of­fi­cer ex­plained off the record: ‘We have none of the re­sources re­quired to meet the threat of a ter­ror at­tack.

‘Po­lice armed units are at least an hour away by he­li­copter and three hours by road.

‘All we have here is a ve­hi­cle to drive at peo­ple. That leaves us in a vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion and leaves staff ill-equipped to cope with a re­sponse in the fir­ing line.’

It is un­der­stood that un­til now the ma­jor­ity of firearms staff are based in the two ma­jor cities in Scot­land.

North Ar­gyll has a num­ber of strate­gic fa­cil­i­ties and events that have been iden­ti­fied as soft tar­gets for ter­ror­ists. Ferry ter­mi­nals, strate­gic routes, events such as Oban Live and Oban Air­port are all rel­a­tively lightly pro­tected.

Con­cerns have been raised by staff across the area that there is lit­tle or no se­cu­rity to check peo­ple, bags and ve­hi­cles be­fore ac­cess­ing fer­ries, buses or trains.

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