Fisherman and kayakers to watch for suspicious acts

PCs John Pennycook and Margo Darling advise fisherman David Brand
PCs John Pennycook and Margo Darling advise fisherman David Brand
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POLICE are seeking to recruit fishermen and kayakers to be their extra eyes and ears on the Lothian coastline to help guard against terrorist attacks and drug smuggling.

Police chiefs admitted that Torness Power Station, the Forth Road Bridge and oil tankers could be among the targets for any terror attack, although they stressed no such threat was currently suspected.

Project Kraken has also been set up to bring in intelligence about smuggling, including boats carrying illegal substances to land at remote locations along the Lothian coast.

Metal thieves have been identified as another criminal element to be targeted by the operation following a spate of thefts of metal plates from fishing trawlers.

Officers are distributing beer mats and stickers at pubs and other locations along the shoreline to promote the campaign.

Meanwhile, a portable advertising trailer will be brought to events such as sailing regattas.

Chief Inspector Peter McGrath said: “At the far end of the scale we have Torness which could be attacked.

“We have the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and obviously thorough threat assessments have been carried out and security is in place.

“The Mumbai terrorist attacks showed the vulnerability from an attack coming from the sea. Although we have to say that no threat of an event like that has come to light, it’s important to build up awareness.

“We also have bridges, oil tankers, cruise liners and energy facilities along the coast.

“We’ve had a spate of incidents recently where thieves have stolen metal from trawlers. They’ve taken the metal plates which cover where the caught fish are stored.

“They would be difficult to move, probably requiring transport, and there may also have been surveillance involved to know when trawlers were in harbour. That is the kind of offence were we could pick up intelligence.

“There are also situations where boats could come ashore in remote areas, perhaps bringing in contraband like drugs or untaxed cigarettes.”

Members of the community are being asked to watch out for people attempting to test security and response times when going into restricted areas, and taking pictures and making notes, and spending prolonged periods of time in the one place.

Police have also asked for reports on individuals who buy “unusual” equipment, chemicals, uniforms, or badges, and who are clearly not local and whose actions do not fit into the area’s daily routine.

Inspector McGrath added: “People who spend a lot of time on the coast are the most likely to spot when something is not quite right.”

Councillor Paul Edie, the city’s community safety leader, said: “This initiative is a great way to raise awareness of the possibility of criminal or terrorist activity in coastal areas.”