Officials have been working closely and effectively with the Scottish Government, the two police forces and the two police authorities, through a joint programme board established to oversee arrangements for delivering the transfer of the British Transport police’s functions in Scotland. We want to see a smooth transition to the new arrangements that ensures the safety and security of rail passengers and staff, and recognises and protects the UK’s interests.
Earlier this month, BTP Federation chair Nigel Goodband said:
“It is appalling that the Scottish Government constantly reminds us that one of its three aims in full integration is accountability to the people of Scotland. British Transport police officers and staff…are people of Scotland. They are proud Scots; they are proud to be in the British Transport Police and proud of living in Scotland.”
“They have said to me that they feel abandoned…by their Government. That is pretty disgusting. It is alarming that they feel that way.”
Does the Minister agree that that quote proves that the SNP Scottish Government are letting down hard-working and dedicated BTP officers and staff in Scotland and that their interests and the interests of the public they proudly protect would be better served by maintaining the way that the BTP operates in Scotland, rather than breaking up a force that serves Scotland and the United Kingdom well?
I certainly understand my hon. Friend’s concerns. It is in both Governments’ mutual interest to make the new arrangements work. The Government are very focused on protecting UK interests generally, including those of passengers, officers and staff, and that is why we are working closely with the Scottish Government, the police forces and the police authorities.