‘The BTP merger isn’t what it said on the tin and, if anything, now looks like a threat to both the future of Scottish policing and railway policing on both sides of the border.’
“It (review of timetable for BTP merger) needs to be independent, transparent and at arm’s length from government. Oversight by a board that is co-chaired by senior civil servants and reports to Scottish Ministers doesn’t pass this test and would allow the Scottish Government to mark its own homework.
‘Having failed to resolve these differences prior to the Act, as well as a myriad of other problems, the realities of integration are now coming to the fore, while the baton has passed to the SPA. Charged with providing assurance and oversight, the Authority has some exceptionally hard decisions ahead on what is a fiendishly complex project, against a backdrop of rising demand on police services and increasing cost pressure.’
‘With only eighteen months until integration, the fact that the status of BTP Scotland officers transferring to Police Scotland remains unresolved should ring further loud alarm bells…At this stage in the process, I’d argue that the Scottish Government would do well to take stock and decide what price it is prepared to put on this merger’.
‘The decision to integrate BTP in Scotland may be political; however, the merger is a matter of public safety and public money, and the Government has a duty to demonstrate that it is not taking undue risks with either’. Foremost expert backs calls for merger to be put on hold.
‘While the risks and complexities associated with extricating BTPs operations in Scotland are now coming to the fore, the advantages look increasingly distant.’
‘The SPA should be made accountable to the Scottish Parliament, not to Ministers, and the appointment of the Chair and Board made subject to cross-party approval. Taking the politics out policing appointments…’
“Policing 2026 is not an officer reduction exercise, nor is at a ‘time-bomb’. Clearly Scottish policing is facing an eye-watering deficit: around £200 million by 2020/21 at the latest estimate. Still, putting it dryly, there are probably less painful ways to cut costs than devising and negotiating a ten-year national policing strategy.” A welcome shift to forward-looking, evidence-based policing strategy.
‘Police Scotland’s problems are by no means wholly reducible to parliamentary process. Still, it seems fair to suggest that the manner in which the Bill proceeded through the Scottish Parliament has not helped matters.’ Taking PLOs (ministerial aides) off committees does not alter the lack of proper scrutiny/partisan politics rather than acting in the public interest.
‘It is difficult to see the logic in saddling Police Scotland with more structural upheaval,’ the author argues about the planned integration of British Transport Police. The Scottish Government is wrong to say that the timing is right: it isn’t.