Remembering Pan Am Flight 103: Tom McCullough

Tom McCulloch was a police officer with the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary in 1988 when the Lockerbie air disaster occurred.

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Pan Am 103 was destroyed over Dumfries and Galloway. But the response was a Scottish police response. It wasn’t simply Dumfries and Galloway; it was a Scottish police response. It was officers from all over Scotland. And, certainly, on the first night, there was officers that traveled up from Cumbria, from Lancashire. Then the military were brought in to expand the search area. We searched an area of 840 square miles. That’s a big area. A lot of material after the explosion, a lot of lighter material was blown away from Lockerbie towards the east coast. And so, there was areas that had to be searched, and we needed resources to do that. And the military were brought in to assist. And in many respects, I felt sorry for some of the young soldiers who were coming in, because these were kids who were maybe 17 or 18, maybe never even seen a dead body. But they were thrust into this and did a good job.

People had to stand up to the mark, had to be counted, and had to do what was required of them. It was an experience, but it was driven by the hope that we could deliver justice for the relatives and for those who had died. And that was always the hope.

If I was to perhaps see that something positive that came out of this was the recognition or the realization that we needed to have a victim strategy for Scotland, we needed to have something positive that we could offer victims of crime. We’ve now got a national service, Victim Support Scotland. So that was something positive that came out of it. And working with people, with family members, with people who are victims of crime, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

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