British Transport Police should stay independent

01 April 2015

April 2015 British Transport Police should stay independent

Every time we take a step forward in operating as stakeholders to ensure there are robust measures in place to deal adequately with issues that affect our members and the travelling public – such as suicide and trespass – some short-sighted person impacts all the good work. This time it’s Michael Matheson, Justice Secretary in the Scottish government, who has announced that the British Transport Police in Scotland will be subsumed by Police Scotland. This after the Smith Commission devolved powers over railway policing to Holyrood.

Strange when we asked that decisions on the future of the ScotRail franchise be put on hold until publication of the Smith Commission report – to see what powers on transport were to be devolved –it was awarded immediately. And what, in relation to future BTP funding, did the franchise agreement commit to? You know the specialist skills the BTP possess in the world that is our non-standard railway system where the first priority is generally safety, rather than criminality, and the knowledge that needs. Is this the first stage in the dissolution of what is currently a UK-wide body that all the stakeholders I have spoken to want to remain operating independently in the interests of the industry, the travelling public, and the taxpayer?

Coincidentally, this is the Scots issue of the Journal and we had a presence at the first conference held by the new Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy since the vociferous debate on independence. Those social and industrial issues that are being driven forward in Wales, London, and elsewhere, are those that impact on the people in Scotland and the realisation that a dip in oil prices made some of the economic claims of other parties unrealistic, and that a proper process that deals with the post-banking economic crisis whilst promoting the needs of working families, were all highlighted. Industrially and politically it is going to bean interesting few months!

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