AS of next week, the force will no longer be with us – Strathclyde Police force, that is.

It is being absorbed into a new national service.

In its time, Strathclyde dealt with many of the biggest incidents and crimes ever seen in Scotland. Some weren't on its own patch – but its expertise was still called on, as RUSSELL LEADBETTER discovers


IT was the attempted terrorist strike that made instant headlines around the world.

Bilal Abdullah and Kafeel Ahmed drove into the front of the main terminal at Glasgow Airport on Saturday, June 30, 2007 and set their Jeep on fire.

Police officers and passers-by, giving little thought to their own safety, tackled the bombers.

Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson was at police headquarters in Pitt Street discussing the events of an attempted car bombing in London when news came in that Glasgow Airport was under attack. He immediately took over operational control.

He later recalled that day on the eve of his retirement in 2010.

"The day it happened there were meant to be 40 people coming to the house for my wife's birthday," he says. "I left saying I'd be back soon – and saw her two days later. I was at work for five days and went home twice to get changed. We all slept in our chairs.

"The response was incredible. Off-duty officers came from all over to offer their help. Their response has perhaps never fully been recognised. Cops perform their best in a crisis. All the practice and training comes in and there was already a plan at the airport. Everyone knew what their role was."

Kafeel Ahmed, 27, who was seriously injured in the incident, died in hospital. Bilal Abdullah was later jailed for a minimum of 32 years.


JOHN Boyd, chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway, was sitting at home in Dumfries on the night of Wednesday, December 21, 1988, when a television newsflash brought him the terrible news: an aircraft had crashed over Lockerbie.

At that very moment, his own HQ rang him.

Realising the magnitude of the task before him, Boyd immediately phoned for help, from the armed forces, from Lothian & Borders Police ... and from Strathclyde Police.

At the time that Pan Am Clipper Maid of the Seas exploded over Lockerbie, John Orr was joint head of CID in Strathclyde Police, with the rank of detective chief superintendent.

He arrived in Lockerbie in the early hours of the morning, having been seconded at the request of Dumfries and Galloway.

He spent two years as the chief investigating officer, heading a multi-force team of officers that succeeded in the face of huge odds in amassing crucial evidence in what was the biggest mass murder – there were 270 victims (259 on the plane and 11 in Lockerbie) – in Scottish history.

Strathclyde Superintendent Angus Kennedy headed daily Press briefings after the tragedy. The force also provided a Holmes computer system, because the manual systems operated by Dumfries and Galloway could not cope.

When he retired, in 1992, as Strathclyde's Assistant Chief Constable, Hugh Paton spoke of one memory that would never leave him – of arriving at the scene in Lockerbie the morning after the tragedy, as daytime incident commander.

He was involved in the traumatic first 10 days. "In 32 years of policing," he said, "these were my worst moments."


ON March 13, 1996, a lone gunman, Thomas Hamilton, ran amok in Dunblane Primary School. Sixteen pupils and a teacher died before Hamilton turned one of his guns on himself.

In July 2004, when he retired from the police, Strathclyde Chief Superintendent Louis Munn looked back at what he considered to have been the biggest challenge of his distinguished career.

He acted as Press Officer in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"I have never faced a challenge like it in my life," he told the Evening Times in 2004. "It was absolutely horrendous.

"I remember the reports coming over the television, they said kids had been killed – none of us believed it, we thought someone had got it wrong.

"I thought: 'How can this happen in a wee town like Dunblane?"

Mr Munn was on the scene within an hour of the shootings. He stayed for 10 days, until the last funeral had taken place.

"There was massive interest from all over the world and my experience at Lockerbie [where he helped deal with some 3500 journalists from around the world] stood me in good stead," he said.

"Outside the school there were hundreds of people trying to get information about their kids, mums and dads crying.

"At that time no information had been released, which class was involved. It was absolute bedlam.

"I have tremendous admiration for the officers inside the school, and how they did what they did when confronted with the scenes."


IN May 2007 Peter Tobin, then aged 60, began a life sentence for raping and murdering Angelika Kluk and hiding her body under a church floor in Glasgow.

"You are an evil man," the judge, Lord Menzies, told Tobin. "What you did to Angelika Kluk was inhumane."

Tobin was also found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing the Polish student's body under the floor at St Patrick's Church in Anderston.

The discovery of her body was enormously upsetting to the church's congregation, and horrified Glasgow.

It took a nationwide manhunt before Tobin was apprehended.

In 2008, Tobin was jailed for at least 30 years for the abduction, rape and murder of schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton. Afterwards, Strathclyde Detective Superintendent David Swindle told how police finally caught up with the serial killer.

He said: "During the investigation into the murder of Angelika Kluk, we established that Peter Tobin had used numerous aliases, was linked to around 38 mobile telephone Sim cards, and had travelled extensively throughout the UK prior to her murder. Strathclyde CID officers established that Tobin had resided in Bathgate in 1991, which was around the dates and in the same area as Vicky Hamilton had gone missing."

Tobin was later found guilty of the murder of teenager Dinah McNicol.