Police Scotland has cast doubt on a promise made by the Scottish Government to protect the terms and conditions of British Transport Police (BTP) officers ahead of a controversial merger of the forces.
The Scottish Government had previously pledged a “triple lock” to guarantee the jobs, pay and pensions of BTP officers when Police Scotland takes over railway policing in 2019.
But in a submission to Holyrood’s justice committee, Police Scotland said it could not yet be determined whether changes would “advantage or disadvantage” BTP officers.
It added that it could not guarantee whether railway policing officers would continue to be entitled to free travel on the network.
Under the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, BTP’s operations north of the Border will be taken over by Police Scotland. It is expected the majority of BTP officers will transfer to the national force, although staff associations have suggested that some may leave.
Responding to a question about the implications for the terms and conditions of BTP officers, Police Scotland said it was not possible to fully outline any changes at this stage.
But it added: “Any changes proposed under regulations to effect the transfer [of officers] may result in variations from their current provision and it cannot be determined as to whether they will advantage or disadvantage an officer.
“Further, it is unclear as to what measures may or may not be legislated for in respect to preservation of the current provisions in order to mitigate any impacts that could be experienced. For example, a current concern is the potential loss of entitlement in respect to free rail travel. This will have to be considered as part of the transfer to look at what arrangements, if any, can be agreed in respect to preservation of the status quo.”
A spokeswoman for the BTP Federation said: “This response is at odds with the reassurances we have been given by justice secretary Michael Matheson.
“The Scottish Government continues to fail in its duty to provide both BTP and Police Scotland with clarity regarding the legal mechanism by which the transfer of officers and staff will take place. This continued uncertainty will only add to the concerns our members have.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has listened closely to the issues raised by the rail industry, policing services and unions and has offered a triple-lock guarantee that secures jobs, pay and pension conditions.”