A majority of members on the Justice Committee have backed the Scottish Government’s plan to integrate the British Transport Police in Scotland into Police Scotland.
The Committee’s recommendations focus on ensuring that should integration go ahead, there is a seamless transfer of responsibility.
This report sets out the Justice Committee’s consideration of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1.
The Bill sets out the legal framework for devolved railway policing in Scotland and is the first step towards the integration of railway policing into the overall structure of Police Scotland. The Bill proposes that the British Transport Police in Scotland, known as ‘D Division’, be integrated into Police Scotland.
The Bill provides the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland with new powers in relation to the policing of the railways and railway property and removes railway policing powers in Scotland from the British Transport Police Force (BTP) and the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA).
The Bill is described as a ‘first step’ to devolving railway policing to Police Scotland as the subordinate legislation that will follow, should the Bill be passed, will be considered by both the UK and Scottish Parliaments. The subordinate legislation will cover many of the issues that were raised during the Scottish Government’s consultation and in evidence to the Justice Committee, such as the transfer of staff, assets and liabilities, and cross-border policing provisions.
This report makes a number of recommendations relating to the more detailed aspects of the Bill, and to the proposed detailed subordinate legislation that will follow, should the Bill be passed by the Scottish Parliament. These include ensuring that risks are identified and mitigated prior to integration so that there is a seamless transfer of policing and no reduction in the safety and security of staff and passengers. Key elements include the training to be provided to police officers and agreeing the terms and conditions of BTP Scotland staff and officers to ensure that they transfer to Police Scotland.
The Committee heard that the costs of railway policing may increase as a result of integration, but that it had not yet been determined what these costs might be or who should pay them. The Committee requested that, should costs increase as a result of integration, the Scottish Government report to the Scottish Parliament, clarifying who will pay the additional costs.
A majority of the Justice Committee supports the general principles of the Bill. A minority of the Justice Committee support an alternative approach to devolved railway policing. There were a number of options proposed by the British Transport Police Authority for devolved railway policing in Scotland. The majority of the respondents to the Scottish Government’s consultation and the Justice Committee’s call for evidence opposed full integration, with some raising concerns about the Scottish Government decision to only consult on one option.