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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:59 am on 6th March 2018.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South 9:59 am, 6th March 2018

The hon. Gentleman has just highlighted that, in terms of terrorism, the Metropolitan police do not say that the British Transport police should be merged in the same way that is suggested in Scotland. I am glad we are having a discussion about terrorism. As I mentioned in an intervention, the BTP chair said that, in the light of terror attacks, any reorganisation of the British Transport police should be paused or halted permanently, on the basis that terrorism and the safety of the people of this country are the single biggest issue that the police service and security services deal with. Everyone should pause and reflect on why the Scottish Government have completely dismissed the British Transport police’s incredibly serious concerns about terrorism. As the biggest public safety issue, terrorism should be at the forefront of our minds. As I said, none of us wants the devolution of transport policing stopped; the question is how it is done in a way that ensures that the police service operates correctly.

It is not just politicians who say that—35% of BTP officers and 45% of BTP staff in Scotland say that they would probably leave the service if this integration went through. They have a great deal of pride in the service and safety that they provide to the public. Before my nationalist colleagues jump up and say that I am talking the police service down, let me say that the entirety of the police service—BTP and the police in my constituency—do a fantastic job in incredibly difficult circumstances. Great damage is being done to Police Scotland because of the botched merger of all the police forces to create that body, not because of individual officers, who do as much as they possibly can on the ground with the slim pickings of resources they are given.

To see how bad this integration would be, it is worth thinking about one of the basic grassroots issues—trains. They were discussed at great length on a cross-party basis when Lord Foulkes of Cumnock brought a debate on this subject to the House of Lords. There is no station on the border, on either the west coast or the east coast. In fact, no one could get a train into Scotland for four days last week. The last stations in England and the first out of Scotland on the UK main lines are Carlisle on the west coast and Berwick on the east coast.