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Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003


57.The BTP is the national police force for the railways in Great Britain. The force is also responsible for policing London Underground, the Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink and the Midland Metro. Their main activities include law and order policing, maintaining the Queen’s peace and protecting staff and the public on the railways. The force deals with all crimes, including murder, violence, sexual offences, robberies, thefts and fraud, and a host of other railway specific incidents, such as accidents, fatalities and suicides. In particular the force has expertise in anti-terrorist strategy, handling of major incidents and the policing of travelling sports fans.

58.The BTP has its origins in the police forces of the many railway companies established by various Acts of Parliament in the 19th century. After the Second World War, nationalisation brought the different railway police forces together under the control of the British Railways Board ("BRB"). BTP constables are currently employed by the Strategic Rail Authority (“SRA”) as successor to the BRB and are overseen by the BTP Committee whose principal function is to provide an adequate and efficient police service for the railways. The BTP Committee, in effect, performs many of the functions of a Home Office police authority.

59.In October 2001 the Government issued a consultation document entitled ‘Modernising the British Transport Police’ with detailed proposals to bring BTP into line with Home Office police forces in terms of accountability, status and powers. The Government’s main proposals in the consultation document were:

  • to establish a police Authority for the BTP;

  • to place the jurisdiction of BTP constables over the railways on a statutory basis;

  • to give BTP constables jurisdiction outside the railways in certain circumstances; and

  • to give BTP constables a number of additional police powers that were only available to constables of local police forces.

60.The proposal to give BTP constables jurisdiction outside the railways was taken forward in section 100 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001. Schedule 7 of that Act, and sections 75 and 76 of the subsequent Police Reform Act 2002, extended to the BTP the additional police powers included in the consultation document. The remaining proposals, namely the establishment of a police authority and giving the BTP a statutory jurisdiction over the railways, are included in this Act.

61.The existing staff of the BTP (both constables and the civilian staff) will be transferred to the new Authority under the provisions of the Act. Staff terms of employment, including pension benefits, will not be affected by the transfer to the Authority.

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