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Report on Police Scotland & BTP Merger

Margaret Mitchell MSP


Scottish Parliament Justice Committee

22 January 2019


Dear Convenor,

Railway Policing (Scotland) Act 2017 implementation update

Thank you for your letter of 20 December 2018 regarding the devolution of railway policing in Scotland. I will address each of the questions you have raised.

Development of medium-term option

The medium-term option under development is based on the consensus amongst stakeholders that legislation currently in force could be used to swiftly create an arrangement that will improve the accountability and transparency of railway policing in Scotland.

I should explain this is not the same as the ‘commissioned service model’ proposed by the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA). It is a new option, developed collaboratively with stakeholders, which would see a new committee established under current legislation to oversee railway policing in Scotland. This committee would include members of both the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and BTPA.

SPA and BTPA have begun to work together to develop how this option would be achieved and work in practice, and will engage with their respective boards on emerging proposals. Stakeholders will continue to input through the existing Joint Programme Board (JPB) arrangements. I anticipate that progress will be reported to the next JPB, likely to be held in February. It is important to give both boards the necessary time to develop the details and timeline for this option. I am therefore unable to give you specific details at this stage. I recognise the need to give clarity to BTPA staff and officers, however, and I am keen to progress this quickly.

The re-planning exercise under the British Transport Police (BTP) integration programme, which took place between February and August 2018, ultimately led to my announcement in August that all options for the devolution of railway policing in

Scotland would be re-examined, as it became evident that any practical commencement date for the Railway Policing (Scotland) Act 2017 should be aligned with aspects of Police Scotland’s strategic plan Policing 2026. The medium-term option identified presents a potentially viable model to swiftly and effectively enhance the governance and accountability of the delivery of railway policing in Scotland.

The model will be based on the agreed design principles that I set out in my letter of 13 December, and the vision of the JPB is that it should be sufficiently ambitious and deliver increased accountability in practice. Once it has bedded in, it will be helpful to assess whether it delivers on those principles. The Scottish Government remains committed to keeping the commencement date of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Act 2017 under review, and clearly such considerations will take into account how the proposed medium-term option is operating in practice.

I can confirm that the National Association for Retired British Transport Police Officers (NARBTPO) participated in the event on 6 January. The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) were invited to the event but sent apologies. As members of the JPB they will continue to contribute their advice and expertise as the model evolves, and I should reiterate that this is very much an ongoing process. For clarity, I have appended to this letter the list of attendees and those who were unable to attend on 6 November.

I will continue to update the Committee on progress.





  • Academic community

  • Audit Scotland

  • Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)

  • British Transport Police

  • British Transport Police Authority

  • British Transport Police Federation

  • Department for Transport

  • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary

  • National Association for Retired British Transport Police Officers (NARBTPO)

  • National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT)

  • Office of Rail and Road

  • Passenger Focus

  • Police Scotland

  • Rail Delivery Group

  • Rail Freight Group

  • Scottish Government

  • Scottish Police Authority

  • Scottish Police Authority Board

  • Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA)

  • Transport Scotland


  • Direct Rail Services (DRS)

  • Rail Safety and Standards Board

  • Scottish Police Federation

  • Unite