Scotland's railways are a vital component of Scotland's national infrastructure, and the British Transport Police provides a specialist railway policing function which is highly valued by the Scottish Government, the rail industry, railways staff and rail passengers.
In November 2014 the Smith Commission published its report detailing Heads of Agreement on further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament and said that:
" The functions of the British Transport Police in Scotland will be a devolved matter".
The UK Parliament has since passed the Scotland Act 2016, which included provisions to transfer legislative competence, and enable the transfer of executive competence, over the policing of railways and railway property in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament. This provides the legislative powers required to implement our stated aim of integrating railway policing into Scotland's wider policing landscape as a valued and vital element of Police Scotland.
Police Scotland has indicated that its intention would be to maintain a specialist railway policing function within the broader Police Scotland structure. This would ensure a railway policing function within Police Scotland that: is accountable, through the Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority, to the people of Scotland; builds on the skills, knowledge and experience of the British Transport Police; and enhances railway policing in Scotland through direct access to the local, specialist and national resources of Police Scotland.
This consultation paper sets out proposed arrangements to integrate the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland. It invites views on how all those responsible can: ensure a smooth transition towards integration; ensure railway policing in Scotland is subject to appropriate oversight by the Scottish Parliament; and maintain railway policing as a specialism.
We hope that you will submit views on our proposals and we look forward to receiving them.
MICHAEL MATHESON MSP
HUMZA YOUSAF MSP
MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT
AND THE ISLANDS