Date lodged: 23 February 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what contingency plans it has in place to deal with any shortage of officers, in light of a recent survey, which suggests that two-thirds of British Transport Police officers in Scotland might leave the service following the proposed merger with Police Scotland.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 8 March 2018
The Scottish Government are committed to delivering the benefits of a single command structure to provide integrated infrastructure policing in Scotland; our priority is to ensure a safe and seamless transition that delivers continuity of service for rail users and staff and ensures public safety.
On 20 February the Joint Programme Board set up to oversee the integration was advised by Police Scotland and the BTP Authority that the operational aspects of the integration will not be ready for April 2019 as planned; and on the same date the Scottish Government wrote to the Justice Committee Convenor to confirm that we have agreed that a re-planning exercise should take place in the coming months to ensure all aspects have a clear and realistic delivery plan in place. Part of this exercise will involve further joint partnership working by Police Scotland and the BTP Authority on any implications to railway policing in Scotland during this process; this will include consideration of workforce planning for future retirements.
We believe there are significant benefits for BTP officers moving to Police Scotland and the recent survey findings news release said that: “more positively, many respondents thought that the move to Police Scotland could provide greater development opportunities”. There is a need for further engagement with BTP officers and staff on a range of workforce matters and the re-planning exercise provides an opportunity to do so.
The Justice Committee will continue to be updated as the work of the Joint Programme Board progresses.