Clause 18 - Exercise of functions

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 11th February 2003.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have a brief question about clause 18. We are told that the authority shall

''aim to ensure the efficient and effective policing of the railways and shall, in particular, have regard . . . in relation to a particular year, to the National Policing Plan for that year.''

Will the Under-Secretary show me where in the Bill we are told what the relationship will be between the British Transport police and the local police force? As regards the jurisdiction, it has been brought to our attention that a short phrase could make all the difference when looking into a case: ''in the vicinity of''.

The Under-Secretary talked us through the circumstances in which certain accidents, such as an accident involving a trolley bus, would be investigated by the local police force for that area, whereas an accident involving a tram would be investigated by the rail accident investigation branch, presumably in conjunction with the British Transport police. I want clarification on the relationship envisaged between the local police force and the British Transport police in the national policing plan, particularly where there may be some doubt about where an accident took place.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Minister of State (Department for Transport)

Essentially, the relationship between the British Transport police and the local police force will be as now. The Bill will not change the roles; it will change the governance of the British Transport police, not the operational relationship between the British Transport police and the county forces. Some of the changes to the Ministry of Defence police allowed greater co-operation between the forces, particularly on the boundaries between their respective areas.

Clause 18 examines the new police authority and sets out the factors that will influence its decisions when establishing its aims and objectives in the exercise of its functions. It says that, when carrying out its functions, the authority will have to take account of objectives set by the Secretary of State and others laid out in the national policing plan for that year. It puts the functions of the British Transport police authority police within a national framework in which specific objectives can be set by the Secretary of State. It looks at the wider inter-relationship with the national policing plan. None of that impacts immediately on the local relationship between the British Transport police and the county forces, with which it interacts on an operational basis.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.