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Railway Policing (Scotland) Act 2017

Arrangements for railway policing

Railway Policing Agreements

8.Section 85A sets out what the nature of an RPA is. These are contractual arrangements between a railway operator and the SPA which provide for the policing of the railways and any railway property used by the operator, and require the operator to pay for that policing. The chief constable must seek to ensure that railways are policed in accordance with RPAs (see section 2 of the Act and its amendments to section 17 of the 2012 Act).

9.Subsection (1) of section 85A confers a power on the SPA to enter into RPAs(1). Subsection (2) provides that an RPA is an agreement about the policing of railways or railway property. To be classified as an RPA, it must include two specific provisions (in addition to anything else it may contain).

10.The first provision it must contain is one obliging Police Scotland to police the railways and railway property in accordance with any agreement under new section 85K (or, in the absence of such an agreement, a determination made under section 85K(2)). This gives railway operators a role in setting the priorities and objectives for the policing of the railways as well as the proposed arrangements for the policing. As noted above, this then feeds into the chief constable’s functions in relation to the policing of Scotland.

11.The second provision it must contain is one obliging a railway operator who is party to such an agreement to pay the sums which the SPA charges for such policing. This should be read in conjunction with section 85B which sets certain parameters around what may be charged for.

12.The chief constable must be involved in the negotiation of RPAs (subsection (3) of section 85A and see also section 17(2) of the 2012 Act as amended by section 2 of the Act)(2). The SPA must also obtain Ministerial approval before entering into or varying any RPA (subsection (4)). However, this requirement does not apply where an RPA is entered into or varied by means of the dispute resolution procedures set out in sections 85F and 85G.

13.Section 85B makes further provision about the costs which may be recovered under an RPA. These include indirect costs incurred in support of the provision of railway policing (such as support services and administration costs), as well as an ability to take account of underpayments or overpayments for policing services in previous financial years. This means that a charge may be levied based on estimated costs, with a reconciliation being carried out once the actual costs are known. Subsection (2) specifies that charges must not exceed the cost of providing railway policing services.

14.Section 85C permits the Scottish Ministers to compel specified railway operators to enter into . Any operator, or description of operator, which is to be subject to this requirement will be specified in regulations, following consultation with the railway operator or operators concerned. By virtue of section 125(2) of the 2012 Act (as amended by section 1(2) of the Act), regulations under this section are subject to the affirmative procedure.


These replace the police service agreements (PSAs) entered into between the BTPA and railway operators under section 33 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. For more information on the existing arrangements under the 2003 Act, see the policy memorandum at paragraph 25.


The chief constable may delegate this function to another constable under section 18 of the 2012 Act, for example a senior officer having operational responsibility for railway policing.

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Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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