The Integration of the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland - A Consultation

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 i

Consultation on the Integration of The British Transport Police In Scotland Into Police Scotland



1. The Scotland Act 2016 confers upon the Scottish Parliament powers over the policing of railways and railway property in Scotland. This gives effect to the recommendation of the Smith Commission, reached through cross-party agreement, that policing of railways and railway property in Scotland should be a devolved matter.

2. The British Transport Police ( BTP) was established by the UK Government's Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 to act as a railway police service across the UK, accountable to the BTP Chief Constable, the British Transport Police Authority ( BTPA), and through them to the UK Parliament.

3. Scottish Ministers have clearly set out an intention to use the powers devolved in the Scotland Act 2016 to integrate the police officers and civilian staff of the BTP in Scotland into the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland). In doing so, our focus is on maintaining an effective railway policing service.

4. 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 that: is accountable, through the Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA), to the people of Scotland; builds on the skills, knowledge and experience of the BTP; and enhances railway policing in Scotland through direct access to the local, specialist and national resources of Police Scotland.

5. The focus of this consultation paper is to invite views from key stakeholders on the approach to integration of BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland, including governance and accountability arrangements. The consultation responses will inform our policy on how this can best be achieved, and the proposed legislative changes that will be presented for consideration by the Scottish Parliament. Some aspects of the change will also require legislation at Westminster.

6. In developing our plans, the Scottish Government will be actively engaging with relevant stakeholders including: the British Transport Police Authority ( BTPA), the SPA, the BTP, Police Scotland, officer and staff associations and representatives, Network Rail, rail operators (passenger and freight), the railway industry, the UK Government Department for Transport, the Office for Rail and Road, the representative passenger body Transport Focus, and other stakeholders.

7. Members of the public are also welcome to respond to this consultation. We appreciate that some of the more technical questions in this consultation are aimed at key stakeholders, and that members of the public may have a particular interest in certain areas. We would encourage you to respond to any or all of those areas where you feel you have a contribution to make.

8. Police Scotland's purpose is to improve the safety and wellbeing of people, places and communities in Scotland. They seek to achieve this with integrity, fairness and respect, upholding fundamental human rights, to make sure that everyone they come into contact with can trust and support the service they provide.

9. The BTP polices Britain's railways, providing a service to rail operators, their staff and passengers across the country. It also polices the London Underground, Glasgow Subway and various other elements of the UK's rail transport infrastructure.

10. Six million people use the UK rail network every day, and the BTP vision is to work with industry partners and stakeholders to deliver a safe, secure, reliable and expanding transport system; its mission is to protect and serve the railway environment and its community, keeping levels of disruption, crime and the fear of crime as low as possible.

11. Scotland's railways form part of the UK-wide rail network, and the structure of the rail industry in Scotland is still largely governed by UK legislation. However, since 2006 Scottish Ministers have had powers to specify and fund rail services and infrastructure in Scotland [1] (this includes letting the contract for rail passenger services and funding the maintenance, renewal and investment activities delivered by Network Rail in Scotland). To maximise the economic and social benefits of Scotland's railways, the Scottish Government funds over £700 million in rail infrastructure and rail passenger services per annum.

12. With around 2,800 kilometres of track (25% of which is electrified) and 358 stations, the Scottish rail network includes heavily used commuter routes, as well as regional routes for both passenger and freight travel. Scotland also has many rural routes providing lifeline services to remote settlements and to tourism and visitor attractions, as well as the UK's largest metropolitan system outside London, covering the greater Glasgow area.

13. Around 93 million passenger journeys are made in Scotland each year and demand is growing. Significantly, about 91% of rail travel in Scotland is within Scotland (freight and passenger), but there are around 8 million passenger journeys and 2 million tonnes of freight using the two cross-border rail routes. Passenger satisfaction is high, 7% above the UK average, and passenger numbers have increased by over 45% since 2005/06.

Further Devolution

14. On 27 November 2014 the Smith Commission published its report detailing Heads of Agreement on further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament; this included the statement at paragraph 67 that: " The functions of the British Transport Police in Scotland will be a devolved matter".

15. On 28 May 2015, the UK Government published a Scotland Bill that included clauses to give effect to the Smith Commission recommendations. This was passed as the Scotland Act 2016 on 23 March 2016.

16. The Scotland Act 2016 transfers legislative competence in relation to the policing of railways and railway property in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament. That transfer of legislative competence gives the Scottish Parliament the ability to determine how - and by whom - those policing services will be delivered in the future.

17. The Scotland Act 2016 also designates the BTPA and senior officers (the Chief Constable, DCC and ACCs) as cross-border public authorities. This has two main effects. Firstly, it stipulates that the Secretary of State should consult Scottish Ministers before exercising certain functions in respect of the BTP or BTPA, including the appointment of senior officers or changes to its constitution. Secondly, it permits secondary legislation under the Scotland Act 1998 to be passed which may confer further executive competence on Scottish Ministers if this is necessary to enable transition; and permits such legislation to effect some of the transitional measures themselves ( e.g. transfer of staff, assets and liabilities).

18. Primary legislation will be required in Scotland to integrate the functions of BTP in Scotland within Police Scotland. The timing of that will be subject to the normal process of agreeing the Scottish Government's legislative programme.


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