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British Transport Police Authority

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Chapter 1: Overview

1. During the integration of BTP in Scotland into Police Scotland, how best can we ensure that the benefits of greater accountability and integration are delivered within the wider policing of Scotland's transport infrastructure? What additional benefits should be looking to achieve?

The Scottish Government wants to strengthen the mechanism by which the “people of Scotland” can hold those who police the railways to account (paragraph 4). The development of a new accountability model should focus on the interests of passengers, rail staff and operators, that is, the segments of Scottish society which are most impacted by how the railways are policed. These groups would benefit from a continued ability to shape the activities which prevent harm and reduce disruption on the network. The Scottish Government may wish to consider how the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) will be equipped to represent the interests of these three groups in the future. Also, for full effectiveness, it would be useful to explore how these stakeholder groups could, through the individual work of the SPA and British Transport Police Authority (BTPA), retain influence over strategies affecting both sides of the border. On a more specific point, passengers will benefit from an operational model that guarantees a seamless service across the rail network. In particular, it will be important to consider a victim’s “journey” through the criminal justice system and the policies needed to guarantee that passengers are not inconvenienced by the need to deal with two police forces on cross-border routes.

Chapter 2: Existing and Proposed Structures

2. What are you views on how to ensure that the skills, knowledge and experience of BTP officers are retained within Police Scotland?

All officers of the BTP, from chief officers to constables, are expertly dedicated to railways policing. The BTP’s Leadership Team is wholly focused on the delivery of a specialised service, thus helping to develop a unique 'transport policing ethos', characterised by a risk-based approach and commercial awareness. The challenges of policing the rail environment are understood by frontline and senior officers alike, thus ensuring a coherent and unique policing approach. The consultation document confirms the intention to retain a specialist railway policing function within Police Scotland (p.2). The Scottish Government may wish to consider what policies will ensure that the future structure of Police Scotland can match the effectiveness of the BTP model in terms of preserving the transport police specialism across its ranks. A first measure would be to ensure that officers’ deployment remains exclusive to the railways environment, and that policies are in place to prevent abstraction. A second measure would be to ensure that the skills, knowledge and experience of railways policing officers are able to inform decisions taken by Police Scotland leaders. Equally, the Scottish Police Authority should be equipped to provide strategic direction to Police Scotland leaders on matters which specifically affect the rail industry, passengers and rail staff.

Chapter 3: Governance and Accountability

3. What do you see as the best way for SPA to engage with the rail industry and passengers in setting railway policing priorities?

The priorities for railways policing in Scotland should continue to be informed by the interests of those who use and run the rail network. The Scottish Police Authority should consult passengers, rail staff and train operators in setting out its main objectives and for the policing of Scotland’s railways. There should also be legislative mechanisms to ensure that the Annual Police Plan for Scotland’s railways prepared by the Chief Constable is appropriately consulted with passengers and industry. The Scottish Government may also wish to consider how to provide representation of stakeholder groups at a police authority level. It would also be sensible to consider how the process of defining objectives for the policing of Scotland’s railways will have regard to the objectives set by the BTP in England and Wales. The rail industry, particularly cross-border operators, might reasonably expect similar aims and targets on both sides of the border.

4. What amendments to the current cost allocation regime should we consider?

In determining the cost allocation model that will operate in Scotland, the Scottish Government should bear in mind the principle of no-detriment that underpins the Smith Commission’s agreement, i.e. that none of the constituent parts of the UK should be adversely affected from policy decisions made in the process of devolution.

5. What do you think should be included in a revised PSA to maintain or enhance the policing service currently provided?

There should be an ambition to establish a link between the costs associated with the provision of police service and performance. Service recipients may also benefit from retaining influence on budget setting, in order to ensure that resources match the operational requirements.

Chapter 4: The BTP Workforce

6. What are your views regarding our proposals for BTP officers and staff transferring to Police Scotland? Do you have views on a preferred option for the timing of negotiating terms and conditions?

views regarding our proposals for BTP officers and staff transferring to Police Scotland? Do you have views on a preferred option for the timing of negotiating terms and conditions
Ensuring workforce morale throughout this process is paramount. The least impact on morale will be offered by guaranteed protections of existing employee terms and conditions. To this end, any options that involve redundancies should be avoided. It would also assist if the Scottish Government was able to provide clarity on the intended design of the workforce transfer process as soon as possible. There should also be an effort to minimise the costs associated with the transformational effort. The timing of negotiation would be for the Scottish Government to agree with the various staff associations, but it appears essential that the defined timescale allows for meaningful negotiation. Also, the legislative mechanisms which will determine the workforce transfer process should allow for realistic deadlines and create the opportunity for the Scottish Government and the staff associations to reach agreement on these complex matters before any switchover date is confirmed.

7. What are the main points to consider when discussing the future of pensions for BTP officers and staff?

Three important points should be considered. One, that transferees should be able to carry their accrued pension benefits across to Police Scotland; two, that transferees should continue to accrue pension benefits at the same rate that they do now and three, that pensions in payment and deferred payments remain under current arrangements. Guided by the Smith principle of ‘no detriment’ the Scottish Government may wish to consider what legislative mechanisms will allow for all possible options to remain open in the future, including the ones that guarantee ‘no-detriment’ to all parties. It seems that the simplest option, from a pensions perspective, is for the current pension arrangements to be left structurally unchanged. A decision on the future of the BTP Superannuation schemes is important to inform the triennial investment strategy (as it would affect the actuarial valuation). Decisions on investment strategy are expected to be considered by the end of 2017, so clarity on future set-up would be required as soon as possible, and in any case before that process gets underway.

Chapter 5: Assessing Impact

8. Are there any likely impacts the proposals contained in this consultation may have on particular groups of people, with reference to the 'protected characteristics' listed above? Please be as specific as possible.

No response

9. Do you think the proposals contained in this consultation are likely to increase or reduce the costs and burdens placed on any sector? Please be as specific as possible.

Under existing arrangements, the total direct costs of running the BTP’s Scotland Division are about £12m. In addition, there are head office charges are allocated to each of BTP’s geographical divisions on the basis of staff and officer numbers in that geographic area and the Scottish share of that is about £8m. This pays for non-geographic functions such as Corporate Resources, Central Operations and Information Technology. These departments basically provide the structures necessary to run a national police service and also central operational policing resources such as major crime, counter terrorism, Special Branch, events policing, training, dogs units and major incident response. Many of those overheads will not be subject to a proportionate reduction after the BTP Scotland Division is merged with Police Scotland. It may not be possible to scale down IT systems beyond a reduction in licences, for example, and in any case the systems will require a continued level of technical support. Many contracts, which supply goods and services to the entire BTP, cannot be changed overnight. It seems certain that some portion of those costs will need to be met by the remaining ‘England and Wales’ BTP, whether through the reallocation of costs among those operators running services within England and Wales, or through efficiencies. After devolution, Police Scotland is also likely to experience areas of diseconomy. For example, Track Safety Training, such as that which is provided to all BTP officers, may be expensive for Police Scotland to replicate. There may, in this sense, be opportunities for close collaboration between the BTP and Police Scotland in the future, and the Scottish Government may wish to consider what legal mechanism may be put in place to facilitate this.

10. Are there any likely impacts the proposals contained in this consultation may have upon the privacy of individuals? Please be as specific as possible.

No response

11. Are there any likely impacts the proposals contained in this consultation may have upon the environment? Please be as specific as possible.

No response