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Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003

Section 31: Jurisdiction

79.The BTP’s main duties consist of public policing, exactly like a Home Office police force. However, unlike a Home Office force, almost all of the BTP’s duties, and in particular its routine patrols, occur on private property, albeit property to which the public may have access i.e. railway stations and trains. The BTP’s existing jurisdiction on this private property flows from a combination of a 1949 private Act of Parliament(3) and numerous private agreements between the SRA and the railway companies. Most operators of railway vehicles and certain railway assets are required under the Railways Act 1993 to have a licence. It is a condition of those licences that the operator must enter in to an agreement with the SRA to engage the services of the BTP on its property. It is these agreements, combined with the 1949 Act that gives the BTP the right to police most railway property.

80.Section 31 gives the BTP a wholly statutory railway jurisdiction throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Within this jurisdiction a BTP constable has the powers and privileges of a Home Office constable. The jurisdiction extends over all railway property. It also extends outside railway property (a town high street for example) throughout Great Britain in relation to railway matters. This jurisdiction would, for example, allow a BTP constable to pursue a person who commits an offence on the railways but then absconds from railway property.

81.In order to allow the BTP to police railway property on a day-to-day basis, section 31(2) & (3) gives the BTP constable a statutory right to enter and police certain defined areas of railway property.

82.On property not listed in section 31(3), the BTP constable is subject to the same restrictions that apply to a Home Office constable. In particular, an officer would be unable to enter private property unless invited, holding a warrant, or exercising some other right of entry (in another Act of Parliament for example).

3

Section 53 of The British Transport Commission Act 1949

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