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Wellbeing and morale must be taken into account in BTP merger, UK minister says


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Labour peer suggests Westminster should refuse to give assets to Police Scotland in bid to halt amalgamation.

Lord Ian Duncan

Lord Ian Duncan


Security issues and police morale must be taken into account during the process of bringing British Transport Police into Police Scotland, the UK government says.

Lord Ian Duncan, a Conservative minister in the Scottish Office, addressed a debate on the break-up of the railways force.

He told peers that a joint board working to bridge the positions the two governments will try to resolve issues around the integration.

He said: “We need to know that terrorism and security issues are addressed head on - there can be no diminution in these.

“We must recognise that this involves real police officers and that there can be no impact upon their wellbeing, their morale or their situation, and that they must be treated with respect throughout this process.

“We must be cognisant of the no-detriment principle. Where there are costs, we must understand how those costs will be allocated fairly and appropriately. We must also recognise that they should not be unfairly or inappropriately placed elsewhere.”

He was responding to several peers who had criticised the plan to merge the forces north of the border.

Labour’s Lord George Foulkes called for the move to be scrapped, suggesting further devolution where BTP’s chief constable reports to the Scottish Parliament to be allowed.

He even called for the UK government to block the change, voted for by the Scottish Parliament last year, by refusing to let Police Scotland have BTP’s Scottish property.

“The integration cannot progress unless the secretary of state for transport agrees to transfer the assets of the British Transport Police in Scotland to the Scottish Government,” he said.

“I ask the minister to get the transport secretary to say that he is reluctant to transfer these assets unless there is a sensible arrangement for devolution, along the lines that I have suggested.

“That would be a bold action, but it is necessary if we are to stop the break-up of a successful policing organisation for party-political dogma.”

He said he would not call a vote on the issue if Lord Duncan committed to making sure the views of the Lords were taken to the cross-government working board.

The Scottish National Party, in power in Scotland, do not send politicians to the House of Lords as they oppose its unelected make-up so no peers defended its position.

The 2014 Smith Commission on devolution gave the Scottish Government the responsibility for railways policing. 

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are fully committed to ensuring that policing in Scotland has a strong and robust future that delivers high safety standards for passengers, staff and the rail industry.

“The integration of railway policing into Police Scotland, as approved by Parliament in June 2017, will provide a single command structure, with seamless access to wider support facilities and specialist resources of the second largest police service in the UK, providing an enhanced service to the rail industry and travelling public.”

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