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Specialised railway policing put at risk by Scottish Government

06 September, 2016

British Transport
Police Federation
September 06, 2016

Specialised railway policing put at risk by Scottish Government

The effective and specialised policing of the rail network in Scotland is being put at risk by proposals to integrate British Transport Police into Police Scotland.

That's the clear message from the British Transport Police Federation in reponse to the Scottish Government's consultation on the proposals for the future of railway policing in Scotland.

In its submission to the formal consultation process the BTP Federation, which represents 2800 police officers, raised concerns including:

  • The potential for inconsistencies in the level of service provided to the millions of passengers who make cross-border journeys each year.
  • The liklihood of BTP officers in Scotland being abstracted from their core rail policing duties in order to bolster the resilience of Police Scotland.
  • The loss of the 'added value' provided by BTP officers to the rail industry for the benefit of passengers, such as the provision of crime prevention advice, the sharing of public order knowledge and the performing of safeguarding roles.
  • The inconvenience and financial impact that arises from incidents on the rail network not being dealt with swiftly and effectively.
  • The financial impact of training Police Scotland officers and leaders to meet the policing demands of a specialist environment.

The BTP Federation's preferred option is for BTP officers to remain as part of the force, but with a greater level of accountability to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the travelling public in Scotland. This would result in the SPA playing an integral part in the setting of future policing objectives for the BTP in Scotland.

Chairman of British Transport Police Federation, Nigel Goodband, said: "We have not yet seen a convincing argument as to how integrating BTP Scotland into Police Scotland benefits the travelling public.

"It is our view that policing of the rail network in Scotland is best delivered by the specially trained officers and staff of the British Transport Police. Our members' achievements in reducing crime and increasing public satisfaction - in an era of increasing passenger numbers - have been recognised by the Scottish Government.

"We believe this successful policing model will be put at risk if it is subsumed into a routine policing environment; one which is already struggling to provide a service and has well-reported financial issues."

Formal consultation closed on 24 August and the Scottish Government expects to issue a report on the process in October.