Police look to private sector for protection

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THE TRICKY question that every Latin scholar has been asked - quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who shall guard the guards themselves) - was answered in Edinburgh yesterday. If only the Romans had known about private security firms, writes James Cusick.

After the embarrassment of a break-in at Lothian and Borders Police headquarters in Fettes, Edinburgh, last month, the Chief Constable, Sir William Sutherland, reported to the police board yesterday that 'the problem must be concluded as soon as possible'.

The force, which will be partially responsible for security at a European Community summit in Edinburgh in December, has taken steps to hire a commercial security firm to protect police headquarters.

Securicor is among a number of companies that have been approached. The UK head office in Croydon said the company would provide the Fettes building with closed circuit monitors and a micro-chip network that would identify on a computer screen any breaks in light-sensitive alarms around the building.

The source said: 'If, for example, a beam was broken, messages would also be shown on-screen to our guard in a special control room inside the building.' And if it was serious? 'Well, he would be told to ring the police.'

Sir William's report on what is being called Fettesgate describes how intruders entered the offices of the Scottish Crime Squad, which rents rooms from the police authority. Files, believed to include some sensitive documents, were removed. No one has been arrested, but most of the documents have been recovered. The thieves apparently gained entry by the simple means of climbing through a ground-floor window.