British Transport Police/ Police Scotland Merger — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:32 am on 6th March 2018.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative, Moray 9:32 am, 6th March 2018

Absolutely. That was highlighted a number of times when the issue was debated in the Scottish Parliament, and it has been included in almost every briefing that we have received. If we end up with the SNP proposal and the status quo here in the rest of the UK, potentially two different forces will be investigating crimes on the same line. Not only is that confusing to rail users and consumers, but it will lead to duplication and misunderstanding, which will lead to a poorer service for Scottish rail users. We should not accept that.

Let us not just pause this process; let us restart it. Let us go back and look at all the options, to ensure that everyone is considered and every option listened to. When I raised the issue at Prime Minister’s questions, she made it clear that she did not believe that this Government should devolve and forget. She also made it clear that passenger safety must come first in any decision making. That has not happened so far, which is why the pause is welcome and why we must look again from the beginning, to ensure the best outcome for BTP officers both current and retired, for rail operators and for everyone who uses our rail services in Scotland and across the UK.

I will take my final words from the study by Dr Kath Murray and Dr Colin Atkinson, which sum up the issue better than anything else. An officer who looked at the plans said:

“It quickly became very clear that dissolving BTP Scotland as opposed to devolving BTP Scotland was going to take place…With no career future in sight, I decided to leave, but long service, conscience and pride in what we have achieved so far means I will stay until the last day. Leaving the best crime and justice legacy of BTP Scotland is important to me. My name will be on it at handover.”

I hope that that officer will continue to serve BTP in Scotland, because with this pause he can continue longer in the force he joined, the force he enjoyed working with and the force in which he took great pride in protecting the people of Scotland and the UK on our railways.