Change in role for Transport Police

British Transport Police on Edinburgh Waverley Station'Rail trains railway
British Transport Police on Edinburgh Waverley Station'Rail trains railway

Police Scotland is to take over the policing of Scotland’s railways when the power is handed to Holyrood, the justice secretary has confirmed.

Scotland is to receive control over railway policing through the Smith Commission agreement on more devolution after the referendum No vote.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said he would be integrating the power over railways to the Scottish force, despite admitting “challenges” still exist with Police Scotland after recent controversies over armed policing and strop and search

“That’s the approach we will take,” he told BBC Radio Scotland this week.

“The approach we’ve taken in Scotland is one where we are much more community engaged, where we have a much greater level of public scrutiny of policing and we expect our force in Scotland to engage with local authorities, with local stakeholders and to make sure they’re seen as being part of the local community.”

British Transport Police wanted to continue providing this service, with oversight by Holyrood instead of Westminster. But Mr Matheson has rejected this and says the force’s Scottish operations, and more than 200 officers, integrated into Police Scotland.

The minister admitted there have been “some challenges” with the introduction of the new national force, Police Scotland, after recent controversies over stop and search and armed officers attending routine incidents.”

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, lead officer for Operational Support, said: “If the decision is taken that BTP becomes part of Police Scotland we will be happy to work even more closely with our colleagues going forward.”