Scottish independence: Police discuss post-Yes intelligence and security sharing

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Media captionSir Stephen House was discussing Police Scotland's first year in a wide-ranging interview with Reevel Alderson

Scotland's chief constable has revealed talks are under way to discuss intelligence sharing if there is a Yes vote in the independence referendum.

Security and intelligence services are reserved to Westminster, with the Metropolitan Police providing the UK lead in counter-terrorism.

If Scotland was independent, these powers would fall to Holyrood.

But Sir Stephen House said he did not view this as a "massive significant issue."

He was speaking in a wide-ranging interview with BBC Scotland to mark the first year of the new single Police Scotland force.

Sir Stephen said: "There's no doubt that in the months after a Yes vote, there would have to be lot of thought put into this. I'm not saying that we haven't thought about it already."

Land mass

He said he did not believe there would be any change in the relationship Police Scotland has with the 43 regional forces in England and Wales and the Metropolitan Police in London, regardless of the result of the September vote.

Co-operation would continue as an independent Scotland would still operate on the same land mass.

But turning to the intelligence and security services, currently operated by the UK government, he said: "The GCHQ, security service question is probably left better to real experts in the intelligence field rather than myself.

"But our relationships at the moment with the security service are very positive, exactly as you would expect."

Currently the Metropolitan Police is the lead agency for counter-terrorism policing throughout the UK.

With an independent Scotland, that would change.

"Come independence, that clearly would change because it would all be the responsibility for the government in Holyrood", Sir Stephen said.

"So there would be a change there, and we would then operate with the Metropolitan Police, and Police Scotland would be the lead in Scotland on counter-terrorism issues.

"Therefore we would be operating in a co-operative mode with the Metropolitan Police. I don't see it as a massive significant issue.

"I think more significant - and it has been brought out by a number of observers - is intelligence flow between the various security agencies. And that is something which needs to be determined going ahead."

Challenging year

He said discussions had taken place, and were continuing, but no solid conclusions had yet been reached.

Reviewing the first year of the operation of Police Scotland, the chief constable said it had been the most challenging of his 33-year career, but overall he was pleased.

"Our view is, it's performing to a good standard. There's more we can do, but we are very pleased in the generality of how things have gone so far," he added.