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Scotland’s Blueprint for a Security and Intelligence Agency: An Initial Assessment

Charlie Edwards, Clare Ellis and Calum Jeffray
Briefing Papers, 31 March 2014
Terrorism and Conflict, Scottish Defence and Security Policy, UK
An expanded intelligence division of Police Scotland may be the best option for an independent Scotland's security and intelligence needs

In the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum, the implications of a Yes vote – for both Scotland and the UK as a whole – are being fiercely debated. As part of RUSI’s work on the defence and security implications of such an outcome, the Institute has scrutinised the Scottish government’s plans for an independent Security and Intelligence Agency.

A new agency would replace, rather than replicate, the current UK government’s security and intelligence agencies, namely MI5 (the Security Service), MI6 (the Secret Intelligence Service) and GCHQ (the Government Communications Headquarters).

An independent Scotland is unlikely to face the severity of threats currently faced by the UK. Given this more benign threat picture, the creation of a new Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency seems unnecessary, with more promising avenues including developing and expanding an intelligence division within Police Scotland.

About the Authors

Charlie Edwards is Director of National Security and Resilience (NSR) Studies at RUSI.

Clare Ellis and Calum Jeffray are Research Analysts in the NSR Department.

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