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Police Scotland to take over railway policing

Police Scotland will take over policing the railways when the functions of British transport Police (BTP) are devolved, Scottish justice secretary Michael Matheson has said. 

The Scottish government agrees with the Smith Commission’s recommendation that BTP functions should be transferred to Scotland. It also welcomes a draft clause that has been prepared to make this change happen. 

The UK government’s draft devolution settlement states: “At present, the BTP is responsible under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 for railway policing throughout Great Britain, with oversight provided by the British Transport Police Authority. 

“This clause will devolve legislative competence in relation to railway policing in Scotland. This change will allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate in relation to the policing of railways in Scotland.” 

Responding to the latest news, Millie Banerjee chair of the British Transport Police Authority, told RTM: “We will continue to work closely with the Scottish government while they consider the details for the future model for policing in Scotland. 

“Our priority as always is to ensure passengers are not put at risk by any changes and officers’ interests are ensured.” 

There are currently 231 BTP officers in the Scottish area, according to figures from the British Transport Police Federation. Under the proposed arrangement these could be transferred into Police Scotland’s 17,000-strong force. 

A spokesperson for the DfT said that how rail transport is policed in Scotland “will be a matter for Scotland once the legislation is passed”. 

The Scottish government added that the BTP provides a specialist function that is recognised and valued by the rail industry and its passengers and it is essential that this is specialism is maintained within Police Scotland. 

“This will ensure the most efficient and effective delivery of all policing in Scotland, keeping communities safe and strong,” said a spokesperson. 

“The Scottish government values the officers and staff of the BTP in Scotland and in so doing want to provide certainty at this early stage on our intentions post devolution. 

"Over the course of 2015, we will continue to engage with all stakeholders including the BTP, the BTP Authority, the BTP Federation and the rail industry on how this can be most effectively achieved within our national Police Service.” 

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