Cost of con­tro­ver­sial rail­way polic­ing plan set to be ‘sig­nif­i­cant’

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By CHRIS MAR­SHALL Home Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

Po­lice bosses have awarded an ini­tial £400,000 con­tract for work over­see­ing the merger with Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice amid warn­ings fi­nal costs will be “sig­nif­i­cant”.

Po­lice Scot­land has tasked Ernst & Young with help­ing de­liver the in­te­gra­tion ahead of a move which will see the na­tional force as­sume rail­way polic­ing du­ties from 2019.

De­spite ini­tial as­sur­ances that costs as­so­ci­ated with the project would be “mi­nor”, min­utes of a closed Scot­tish Po­lice Author­ity (SPA) meet­ing now makes it clear there are likely to be “sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions” as­so­ci­ated with the work.

MSPS voted to in­te­grate BTP op­er­a­tions in Scot­land into the na­tional po­lice force ear­lier this year de­spite con­cerns from the rail­way in­dus­try, staff as­so­ci­a­tions and trade unions. The fi­nan­cial mem­o­ran­dum which ac­com­pa­nied the Bill said there would be “mi­nor tran­si­tional costs” for the SPA and Po­lice Scot­land as­so­ci­ated with chang­ing po­lice badges on uni­forms / ve­hi­cles and from trans­fer­ring HR data.

But ac­cord­ing to the min­utes of a closed SPA fi­nance com­mit­tee at­tended by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and Po­lice Scot­land, mem­bers were told the work is “com­plex and un­prece­dented with many sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions”. The pa­per added: “It was fur­ther noted that the time­lines to com­plete the work [are] very tight.”

Dr Kath Mur­ray, a crim­i­nal jus­tice re­searcher at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity, said it was “ex­tra­or­di­nary” that the costs as­so­ci­ated with the project re­main un­known.

She said: “The fact the costs of in­te­gra­tion are still not known raises se­ri­ous ques­tions about the pol­icy-mak­ing process. Ahead of the Rail­way Polic­ing Act, Po­lice Scot­land cau­tioned that the costs as­so­ci­ated with the Bill were not clear.

Nearly a year on, this is still the case, with due dili­gence now ex­pected in early 2018. With less than eigh­teen months un­til in­te­gra­tion, it seems ex­tra­or­di­nary that the project re­mains un­costed.”

Tom Mcma­hon, di­rec­tor of busi­ness in­te­gra­tion at Po­lice Scot­land said: “As part of the early work of the mo­bil­i­sa­tion, tran­si­tion and trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme, an as­sess­ment of costs as­so­ci­ated with the in­te­gra­tion of BTP func­tions into Po­lice Scot­land is on­go­ing. A progress up­date will be pro­vided to the SPA in due course.”

Yes­ter­day it emerged Po­lice Scot­land’s pro­jected bud­get deficit for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year has re­duced by around £10 mil­lion to £36m due to “un­der­spends” on po­lice staff.

0 The na­tional force will as­sume rail­way polic­ing du­ties from 2019

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