Policing of Scotland's railways would become the responsibility of Police Scotland rather than the British Transport Police, under a Scottish Government Bill just introduced to the Holyrood Parliament.
Ministers want to integrate the specialist function of the Transport Police with the national police force in order to make it "accountable, through the Chief Constable and the Scottish Police Authority, to the people of Scotland", to give it direct access to Police Scotland's specialist resources, and to "future proof" the infrastructure against changes that may take place in England & Wales. It is thought that a UK Government review, expected before the end of the year, may propose a form of integration into a wider policing structure in England & Wales.
The Bill also creates an obligation for the SPA and Chief Constable to engage regularly with railway operators on railway policing, and obtain the views of rail passengers and other interested persons, about policing of railways.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has committed to providing a "triple-lock guarantee" that secures jobs, pay and pension conditions through the course of integration.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We have been assured by Police Scotland that the specialist knowledge, skills and experience of BTP officers and staff will be protected and maintained within Scotland’s wider policing service. As part of Police Scotland, railway policing will benefit from their local support, specialist resources and expertise.
“Cross-border policing will continue to be seamless in both directions. Police Scotland has excellent relationships with their counterparts and we are working with the UK Government to ensure police have appropriate powers for the entire duration of cross-border journeys.”