New body announced to oversee railway policing in Scotland

Details of a new committee being established to oversee railway policing in Scotland have been announced.

Mr Yousaf said the new body represents a 'great step forward for the accountability and transparency of railway policing in Scotland'.
Mr Yousaf said the new body represents a 'great step forward for the accountability and transparency of railway policing in Scotland'.

The Scottish Railways Policing Committee is being set up after repeated delays to a planned merger of Police Scotland and the British Transport Police (BTP) north of the border, initially due to take place this April.

Legislation was passed in 2017 to clear a path for integration - despite criticism from opposition parties, unions and others - and the Scottish Government maintains this is under review.

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However, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf previously said it might never be enacted and all options for the devolution of railway policing would be re-examined.

Now, a sub-committee of the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA), which oversees the BTP, is being created to scrutinise railway performance in Scotland.

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The Scottish Railways Policing Committee will be chaired by Scotland member of the BTPA Bill Matthews and will include his colleagues and members of Police Scotland oversight body the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The Scottish Government said the new committee will improve accountability and give the SPA a greater role in railway policing.

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Responsibilities of the committee include reviewing and reporting on the planning and performance of railway policing in Scotland.

It will also analyse and report on co-operation between BTP and Police Scotland and scrutinise BTP's work with other organisations and the public.

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Mr Yousaf said: "This is a complex piece of work and represents a great step forward for the accountability and transparency of railway policing in Scotland.

"It will also ensure the continued safety and security of the travelling public."

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BTPA chairman Ron Barclay-Smith said: "A great deal of work has gone into finding an adequate solution for the management and scrutiny of rail policing in Scotland that works best for all involved, including police staff, officers, passengers and rail staff."

The committee's first meeting is expected to be held in early autumn.