Police warn a possible murder victim every month
A POLICE force is sending out almost one letter a month warning Scots they are the target of a murder plot.
A total of 11 people living in the Lothian and Borders area received official warnings from police that their lives were at risk in 2011.
The figure for the previous year was just three.
The so-called “Osman letters” are sent out when police have evidence of a murder plot but not enough to make an arrest.
Between 2007 and 2011, Lothian and Borders Police sent out a total of 55 warning letters to people in mortal danger.
Councillor Iain Whyte, the police board convener, said: “It’s a very sensitive area and the police have to tread carefully and assess each case on an individual basis before deciding to issue one of these warning letters.
“It’s very important that people are informed of any threat to their lives.”
Police can put together an action plan to protect the person, such as putting them under police protection or moving them to a safe house.
A police spokesman said: “Threat to Life Warning Notices are issued whenever there is a credible threat to the safety and wellbeing of an individual.”
Police chiefs said they were unable to disclose who was given the warnings.
The warnings are known as ‘Osman letters’ after a court case where the family of a murder victim argued his human rights had been breached because police didn’t warn him about his killer.
Ali Osman was shot dead in London in 1988 by Paul Paget-Lewis, who had warned police he was a danger.
Mr Osman’s family argued the case in the European Court of Human Rights, and in 1998 the court decided police would be legally responsible for failings during an investigation.
Simone Banarjee, an nurse who was in a relationship with wife-killer Malcom Webster, said she had been given a warning notice while they were together.
Webster was later found guilty of killing his first wife in Aberdeenshire in 1994 in a £200,000 insurance scam.
He had staged a car crash and set the vehicle on fire to cover up the murder.
Ms Banarjee confronted Webster about the death after she received the letter in 2008, which promted the killer to turn white, she said.
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