SNP calls for handover of transport police control

Constables Louise Beaumont and Darren Brannan, left, at Waverley Station, Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Stuart

Constables Louise Beaumont and Darren Brannan, left, at Waverley Station, Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Stuart

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THE Scottish Government is calling for control over the British Transport Police (BTP) north of the Border to be given to Scotland’s new national police force.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has held talks with police and rail chiefs on the issue and is now urging the UK coalition government to press ahead with a “speedy” handover.

UK ministers are carrying out a review of the BTP, which has a key responsibility for patrolling the rail network.

“The policing of railways in Scotland would be more effective and efficient if it was part of the single service,” Mr MacAskill said in a letter to the UK Transport Secretary earlier this month.

“There would be access to more than 17,234 officers, national and specialist capacity and capability and the range of other benefits that come with being part of a single organisation.”

The national police force took effect in April. It has a specialist crime division which includes a border policing command that will incorporate all the policing functions carried out at airports and ports.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said yesterday: “It remains an anomaly that the security of rail services in Scotland sit outwith the jurisdiction of the chief constable of Scotland.”

The Scottish Government is responsible for funding the railway in Scotland, including, directly or indirectly, its policing.

Mr MacAskill had called for talks with the UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on the issue, but those have been put on hold while officials hold further discussions. The coalition government is looking at the position of the transport police south of the Border, but Mr MacAskill has urged UK rail minister Simon Burns to hurry change.

“We could be more ambitious with the speed with which this could be delivered for Scotland,” Mr MacAskill said in a letter to the minister.

Scottish Government officials are building an “evidence base” for change.

Mr McLoughlin said there are “wider impacts” that need to be considered in a proposed transfer.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Rail minister Simon Burns is happy to meet the Scottish Government as soon as possible, once the details of their proposals can be

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