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Union hits out at controversial plans to merge BTP into Police Scotland

Officials from the TSSA union have today lashed out at the Scottish Government for the continuation of plans that would see transport policing transferred into the hands of regular police forces.

Ministers have pursued the move for some time, claiming that a merger would secure more safety for passengers.

However, the union has consistently attacked the plans, arguing that it is nothing more than the furthering of what general secretary Manuel Cortes has called an “ideological exercise.”

In 2013, the Scottish National Party (SNP) created ‘Police Scotland,’ which consisted of eight merged regional police forces and centralised policing in the country. In a further effort to bring together forces, ministers suggested in 2016 that the Scottish division of the British Transport Police (BTP) should also be absorbed into this body.

Speaking after the Scottish Government approved the ‘Railway Policing Bill’ in May, transport minister Humza Yousaf explained that the merger would mean police were answerable to Scottish citizens.

“Integrating the BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland will further enhance the safety of passengers and railway staff and our plans will provide railway policing which is more accountable to the people of Scotland,” he said.

“The bill will also provide more joined up service across our key infrastructure and with local community policing.”

However, Cortes has hit out at the plans for integrating the BTP with a body he claims has “lurched from disaster to disaster.”

Citing recent controversies, including the resignation of the country’s chief constable Phil Gormley, the TSSA spokesperson said it was time for the Scottish Government to reverse the plans.

“Yet again we’re seeing this SNP government put nationalism ahead of Scottish people’s safety,” he commented.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson has previously explained that fears over jobs were unfounded, claiming that the government would run a “triple-lock guarantee” on current staff.

“Police Scotland have made clear that specialist railway policing expertise and capacity will be maintained and that there will be improved access to wider support facilities and specialist equipment,” he said.

“We remain committed to providing a ‘triple-lock guarantee’ that secures the jobs, pay and pension conditions for over 280 railway policing officers and staff in Scotland and will be able to firm up details in the coming weeks as the Bill moves forward.”

Top image: Jane Barlow, PA Wire

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Frankh   09/02/2018 at 12:15

It's the word British in BTP they don't like pure and simple. They can dress the reasons up any way they want it's the B word that's the real reason.

Jimbo   09/02/2018 at 13:58

@Frank - I would have disagreed with you, but after a recent bid for work with Scottish Gov, I am no longer so sure - anyone without a Scottish accent was not welcome. After amalgamating all the other Scottish police forces, it does seem a bit odd having a separate transport force. Nevertheless, neither side has been very good at explaining benefits of merging or not merging, so all we are left with is ideology on both sides.

GW   09/02/2018 at 16:21

At last... something that the Unions and most others agree on. Everybody with a modicum or knowledge or sense believes this is the wrong thing to do.

Andrew Jones   10/02/2018 at 19:45

There ought to be some way to create a link from the Scottish Chief Constable to the Senior officer in BTP Scotland. That ought to be able to get the best of both sides. BTP have an amount of specialist training the Civil police don't. To merge would probably lose all that.

PP   12/02/2018 at 09:04

@GW Not necessarily - I've met a few senior Scottish rail managers who think it is a good idea. That said, I have no doubt whatsoever that the motivation for doing it is the SNP's obsessive desire to centralise everything and take power away from evil unionists/Westmonster etc.

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