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Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf MSP

T: 0300 244 4000 E: scottish.ministers@gov.scot

Margaret Mitchell MSP Convener of the Justice Committee Scottish Parliament justicecommittee@parliament.scot

___

20 February 2018

Dear Margaret,

BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE INTEGRATION

Thank you for your letter of 8 February in which you requested an update on a range of matters relating to the integration of the BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland. I thought it would also be helpful to update the Committee on the overall status of the programme. The Joint Programme Board overseeing the integration of BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland met this morning. Significant progress has been made on a number of aspects of integration such as secondary legislation and pensions, and on mapping BTP terms and conditions to ensure they are transferred intact. Further details on these areas are provided below.

Under the auspices of the JPB, Police Scotland and BTPA have established a joint project to deliver the operational aspects of the programme. As part of that joint work, a workshop including members of the senior command teams from both Police Scotland and BTP met earlier this month to review progress on operational matters and found that a number of significant issues remained to be resolved. As a result of this assessment, the JPB was advised this morning that further time is needed to deliver integration most effectively and safely for railway passengers, staff and officers. Their assessment is that the current scheduled date of 1 April 2019 will not be achieved.

Ministers have accepted this advice and a detailed re-planning exercise will now take place over the coming months to ensure robust delivery plans are in place for all of the key elements of the programme and to establish a new delivery date. This approach reflects Ministers’ commitment to Parliament to keep the programme under review and to give any issues raised by the Joint Programme Board due consideration. This, in turn, reflects the importance I place on ensuring that a smooth transition is achieved which delivers continuity of service for rail users and staff. I would stress that I remain committed to ensuring the Act is fully implemented to ensure the benefits of a single command structure and improved access to the full range of capabilities of Police Scotland is delivered.

While a later-than-planned integration date is disappointing, I am clear that it also provides all partners on the JPB with an opportunity to enhance the process of engagement, in particular with officers, staff and their representatives on key issues, including those highlighted in your letter. The re-planning exercise will seek to ensure that additional opportunities for engagement are built into the timetable going forward. Ministers agree with the Committee’s view that reaching agreement on the terms, conditions, benefits and pensions of BTP staff and officers is critical to achieving a seamless transfer of railway policing to Police Scotland.

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In relation to pensions, the Scottish Government is in discussions with the Trustee of the British Transport Police Force Superannuation Fund and of the British Transport Police Shared Cost Section of Railways Pension Scheme to ensure that BTP officers and staff who transfer into Police Scotland retain access to their current pensions. A proposal to achieve this has been put to the Trustees for discussion, and once we understand their position on key issues we will be well placed to consult representatives of pension scheme members, including those representing retired members such as the National Association for Retired BTP Officers on the proposed way ahead. This approach will ensure that there is meaningful engagement which reflects the views of the Trustee on how such arrangements can best be made to work.

The JPB has agreed and published a Q&A for officers and staff which covers a number of issues related to pensions and terms & conditions, and I attach this for reference. The publication of the Q&A has prompted further questions from officers and staff, and we are working through these with a view to updating the Q&A on a regular basis.

Members of the Joint Programme Board (JPB), including officials of the BTPA, SPA, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government met recently with representatives of the BTPF on 13, 14, 15 December and 9 January in full-day workshops to compare BTP/Police Scotland terms and conditions of service, including pensions. These full-day workshops will continue this week on 20, 21 and 22 February, with more workshops expected as this mapping work progresses. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that the existing terms and conditions are understood at a level of detail which will allow work to progress on ensuring no detriment during the transfer process. Officials met with TSSA on 20 December, 1 February and again jointly with TSSA/BTPF on 12 February with another joint meeting to follow on 19 March. We are also planning to step up engagement with the SPF in the period ahead. An early part of the engagement plan will be to hold an event for BTP officers and staff in March.

Draft Scotland Act Orders for the transfer of BTP officers and staff in Scotland into Police Scotland are at an advanced stage of preparation by UK and Scottish Government officials and we expect to be in a position to commence engagement on these with key partners and other stakeholders in the coming weeks. This will include unions and staff associations.

With regard to the future membership of the SPF by railway policing officers in Police Scotland, I confirm there has been no change to the position as in my letter to you of 15 November, however, we remain open to further engagement with both BTPF and SPF on this point.

The next JPB meeting will be held at the Department for Transport in London on 6 March when the JPB will further consider the re-planning exercise. Both the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and I are committed to supporting JPB partners to maintain momentum towards the seamless transition that we’re working collectively to achieve. We will keep the Committee updated on how that work is progressing.

HUMZA YOUSAF

Subject: Pensions Expert.Com article today

Scotland’s transport police could get separate scheme section

Members of the British Transport Police Force Superannuation Fund are set to be moved to a new section in the scheme from April 2019 if trustees agree, while new recruits will join the unfunded police arrangement or Local Government Pension Scheme.
The proposed creation of a new scheme section is part of the planned merger of the British Transport Police in Scotland with the eight forces of Police Scotland.
In a Q&A, the Scottish government said that existing members will remain in the BTPFSF, which is linked to the Railways Pension Scheme.
The trustee will not agree to proposals unless it is satisfied that they are in the best interests of the beneficiaries

RPMI trustee

“It is proposed, subject to approval by [the Scottish Police Authority] board and the scheme trustee, existing BTP officers and staff can remain in their existing schemes but will transfer to a new section within the schemes, with SPA becoming the designated employer for these new sections.”
It added that “the benefits will be precisely mirrored in the new sections”.
Officers recruited after the merger with Police Scotland will become members of the Police Pension Scheme 2015, while new staff will be in the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Retired members raised concerns

The implications of the merger created waves when the National Association for Retired British Transport Police Officers heard of a proposal to move members of the scheme to a brand new pension fund.
NARBTPO requested a statutory guarantee that benefits would be protected while members were in what it considered to be a less secure arrangement, citing the fact that the BTPFSF was 101 per cent funded at its 2015 valuation.
It raised concerns over the viability of any new standalone arrangement, which would include just a few hundred members and start out as a mature scheme.
Honorary secretary Martyn Ripley said: “We’re not saying don’t go ahead with the new proposed fund. We are saying if you do it, we want it written into statute… or we want a Crown guarantee.”
However, the Scottish government has said that although a standalone scheme was one of the options, it was just one of many considerations, and was not the proposal ultimately put forward.
A spokesperson said: “The Scottish government has made clear that the jobs, terms and conditions and pensions of transferring officers and staff will be protected, while retired officers will continue to have access to their existing benefits from the scheme.”
RPMI, which administers the £1.2bn BTPFSF, confirmed the trustee has received a proposal from the Scottish government. It added that it will receive legal and actuarial advice before taking decisions.
“The trustee will not agree to proposals unless it is satisfied that they are in the best interests of the beneficiaries,” RPMI said.

Sectionalised industries ‘function more easily’

Those employed by British Rail before 1993 have a right to remain in the RPS, under the Railways Act 1993 and the protected persons regulations, John Hanratty, head of pensions for the north of England at law firm CMS, pointed out.
He said creating a new section is not uncommon within the rail industry and “will provide the member with continuity, so it should be the same as with the previous scheme”.
However, for the scheme and employer, “your costs become more volatile because you’re spreading them over a lower number of members”.
On the upside, any ‘last man standing’ issues would be contained to a section, unlike in non-sectionalised schemes, such as Plumbing Pensions, which can be left with orphan liabilities of an employer no longer able to pay.
For that reason, “these sectionalised industry-wide schemes seem to function somewhat more easily than the unsectionalised ones,” he said.

 

Received from Viv head:

All
Retired Detective Constable Tony, ‘Robbo’, Robison's funeral is on Tuesday 20 February at 12 noon at Crewe Crematorium,  no flowers please.  Any donations will go to the RNLI.
There will be a Farewell (Wake) after the service at Hunters Lodge Hotel, Crewe.
It is about 1.75 miles from Crewe Railway Station to Crewe Crematorium, and it is about 1.75 to 2 miles from the Crematorium to Hunters Lodge Hotel. John Harrison has helpfully searched for taxies in Crewe and has provided the following information for those attending by rail.
Westside Taxis 01270 211222, Abbey taxis 01270 212125, Rainbow Cars 01270 214444
Viv

This has just been received from Viv Head

In just a few hours, I have today received the news of the passing of three former officers
1. Peter NICHOLAS (Plymouth)
Peter Nicholas passed away a few days ago, he was a PC serving mainly at Plymouth but had been at Crewe early in his service and for a while was a Crime Prevention Officer. He is to be cremated at Bodmin Crematorium PL30 4AP at 0930hrs on Friday the 16th February,2018 followed by a service at the church in Sheviock, Cornwall PL11 3EH followed by a wake close by.
 
2. Norman OAKES (Coventry)
William Norman Oakes started in Birmingham in 1950, moved to Wigan in '51, made DC at Liverpool in 1960, U/Sgt Derby 1963, DS B'ham/Coventry in '66 and stayed there till he left the job in 1978. Afterwards he took a hotel in Blackpool until he moved into a nursing home c. 2013. I understand that he died earlier last year.
3. Tony Robinson (Crewe)
Anthony 'Tony' Robinson served as a long term Detective Constable at Crewe (those that knew him would describe him as a most able detective of the University of the Old School). He died on 1 February 2018 at Leighton Hospital Crewe after a short illness that developed into pneumonia.
I don't have any age or service history for Tony so if anyone can help with that I would appreciate it.
As ever, I will circulate any further details when known

UPDATE RE SCOTTISH PENSIONS.

 

NARBTPO have been in dialogue with the British Transport Police Authority and we are able to report as follows.

Negotiations are fluid and ongoing surrounding a number of issues. In relation to BTP pensions our requests to have protections enshrined in legislation are being considered. They have not been dismissed as unachievable at this time.

Please therefore note the following three items;

  1. Our request to have any changes to Scottish pensions protected in statute is being considered and has not been dismissed as unachievable.
  2. At the most recent meeting of the Joint Programme Board, pensions were discussed at length. It appears that the issues surrounding firm and binding protections has some support and will be discussed further.
  3. NARBTPTO will now be updated along with the other staff associations. NARBTPO will be invited to all future staff association meetings and briefings.

John Bryant   Hon Chairman                                                                                           

 

Martyn Ripley Hon Secretary

 

Following info from  Ken Graham, via Eddie Heron.

John Arthur Sangster:

Mrs Marion Sangster has phoned me with details of John’s funeral.   The funeral will take place at Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn, Irvine, KA11 4EF, at 12.00 on Friday 23 February 2018.   (She confirms the date as “three weeks come Friday” owing to heavy pressures on the crematorium.).   There will be a formal announcement in the “Kilmarnock Standard” in due course and that can be viewed online.

Holmsford Bridge Crematorium is described as easily accessible from the main A71, A77 and A78 roads.

You might want to note,  that John Sangster joined the Force in 1960, retired in 2000 and was aged 78 when he died.   John and Marion have three sons – John, Alastair and Colin, and five grand-children.

John was not a member of NARBTPO.

Regards,

 

 

 At yesterdays NARBTPO meeting the Executive and Committee approved the following templates to be used by retired officers, should they wish to write to the BTPFS trustees surrounding the potential change of pension arrangements for Scottish retired officers.

 There are two letters.

  1. If you retired as a Scottish Officer
  2. If you are a retired officer from England and Wales.

 If you decide to send this letter off you must ensure you enter your Nat Insurance No and also Railway Pension reference No.

 The decision to send such a letter is a personal one. We have drafted these as we have had numerous members contact us to state they would be writing letters of objection.

 We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

 Many Thanks

 John Bryant

Hon Chairman

National Association for Retired British Transport Police Officers

These are the two suggested formats to be used when contacting the Railway pensions Trustees Company Ltd.

Letter 1

Full name

Home address

National Insurance No

Railway Pension Ref No

Letter to

Mr John Chilman

Railways Pension Trustee Company Ltd

Exchange House

12 Exchange Square

London

EC2A 5NY

Dear Mr Chilman,

TRANSFER OF PENSION TO NEW SEGREGATED BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE

PENSION (Scotland)

I am a retired Scottish British Transport Police Officer. I am a member of the British Transport Police Superannuation Fund.

I am aware that the Trustees are potentially to be asked to transfer me into a new segregated and protected (Scottish) British Transport Police Superannuation Fund.

I do not give the Trustees my consent to use my personal existing pension allowance in this manner.

I completed my pensionable service within British Transport Police as a member of the British Transport Police Superannuation Fund. That was my contract with B.T.P.

I did not join, and never was told that in the future, on completion of my pensionable contract invested with you, that I could be moved from my existing and successfully funded scheme to a new and much smaller fund.

I therefore would ask you take my personal view into consideration, which is, that I strongly object to my personal funds being transferred and used in this manner to create a new (Scottish) fund.

Yours Sincerely


 

Letter 2

Full name

Home address

National Insurance No

Railway Pension Ref No

Letter to

Mr John Chilman

Railways Pension Trustee Company Ltd

Exchange House

12 Exchange Square

London

EC2A 5NY

Dear Mr Chilman,

TRANSFER OF PENSION TO NEW SEGREGATED BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE

PENSION (Scotland)

I am a retired English and Wales British Transport Police Officer. I am a member of the British Transport Police Superannuation Fund.

I am aware that the Trustees are potentially to be asked to transfer our Scottish colleagues into a new segregated and protected (Scottish) British Transport Police Superannuation Fund.

This transfer will make my own fund smaller. At no time have I been consulted on this or had it explained to me.

As a stakeholder and pensioner, I do not approve of the Trustees removing money from the main BTPSF to set up a separate BTP Scottish pension fund.

I ask you take my personal view into consideration when considering the proposal which is being put before you.

Yours Sincerely