Union chief hits out at trans­port po­lice­move

Na­tional force ‘not fit’ to take on rail­ways role

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - News - BY KATRINE BUSSEY

A planned merger of Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice in Scot­land with the coun­try’s na­tional force could spark “big de­lays” and hit rail firms in the pocket, a union leader has warned.

Manuel Cotres, gen­eral sec­re­tary of trans­port union TSSA, said BTP is a “su­per-ef­fi­cient” ser­vice and Po­lice Scot­land “are not fit to take it over”.

Min­is­ters at Holy­rood have pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would give power over rail­way­polic­ing to the force and the Scot­tish Po­lice Au­thor­ity watch­dog.

BTP deputy chief con­sta­ble Adri­anHan­cock has al­ready told MSPs the plans could cre­ate an un­nec­es­sary “bor­der” for of­fi­cers.

He would pre­fer a new Trans­port Po­lice Scot­land to be cre­ated in­stead of the force be­ing ab­sorbed into Po­lice Scot­land.

Mr Cortes called on in­dus­try lead­ers such as Stage­coach founder Sir Brian Souter and Sir Richard Bran­son to speak out against the plans.

Mr Cortes said: “No one in­volved in the rail in­dus­try wants this merger.

“The BTP don’t want it, the BTP Fed­er­a­tion don’t want it and rail unions don’t want it.

“UK cross- bor­der rail safety is way too im­por­tant to be re­duced to a de­vo­lu­tion is­sue. Scot­tish Labour don’t want it, Scot­tish Tories don’t want it. The driv­ers be­hind it are the SNP First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon, her Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Mathe­son and her Trans­portMin­is­ter Humza Yousaf.”

The union leader added: “The BTP is a highly-re­garded, su­per- ef­fi­cient, well-em­bed­ded cross-bor­der ser­vice which needs ab­so­lutely no SNP fix­ing.

“It cer­tainly doesn’t need merg­ing into the trou­bled Po­lice Scot­land, who are not fit to take it over.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said that the pro­posed changes had cross-party agree­ment.

Scot­tish Labour jus­tice spokes­woman Claire Baker said: “BTP, of­fi­cers, staff and unions are all against the SNP’s plans, now it looks like train bosses may be against them as well.

“We al­ready have a trans­port po­lice sys­tem that works and serves us well.”

IN­DE­PEN­DENT: Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice are re­spon­si­ble for safety on the UK’s rail­ways and are not con­nected to any one force

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