The Scottish Government is to press ahead with plans to integrate the British Transport Police into Police Scotland.
The Railway Policing Bill will put in place funding arrangements for the merger of BTP operations in Scotland with the cash-strapped national police force.
The legislation is one of a number of justice measures included in the SNP’s programme for government, which was published yesterday.
The Domestic Abuse Bill will create a new offence of domestic abuse that will criminalise psychological abuse such as “coercive behaviour”.
Under the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill, the three-year time bar on raising personal injury actions will be lifted for survivors of child abuse.
The time bar has previously been blamed for preventing those abused in childhood from seeking compensation through the civil courts.
There is also a pledge to investigate alternatives to short-term prison sentences, including the use of GPS
Police Scotland’s £1.1 billion annual revenue budget will be protected in real terms, with the government supporting work being carried out by the Scottish Police Authority to “transform” the service, including more specialists in cyber-crime and counter-fraud. There will also be an extra £2m to allow Police Scotland to maintain its ageing estate.
However, it is the Railway Policing Bill which is likely to be the most contentious item among the justice
Last week the British Transport Police Federation, which represents officers working for the service, said the Scottish Government’s plans would create “inconsistencies” for the millions of passengers who make cross-border journeys each year.
It also warned that BTP officers would be “abstracted” from their duties to “bolster” Police Scotland.
Railway policing is being devolved to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act following a recommendation by the Smith Commission.