SNP accused of "humiliating climb-down" over Police merger
Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has confirmed he will “re-examine all options" over the devolution of British Transport Police.
Scottish government ministers had hoped to absorb railway policing into Police Scotland by April 2019, but this was delayed indefinitely earlier this year.
The plans ran into trouble after skyrocketing costs, IT failures and concerns from Police authorities led to the merger date being pushed back.
The TSSA's General Secretary, Manuel Cortes welcomed the news that the "idiot policy" had been delayed.
“It’s good news that justice secretary Humza Yousaf has put the SNP enforced merger of BTP rail policing in Scotland with Police Scotland under review." he said.
“One Hopes ‘under review’ is political speak for ‘kicked into the long grass ‘til it’s forgotten about as the bad and costly idea everyone in the rail and policing business warned.’
“But as Humza has made the announcement with the preface “Ministers remain committed to the full integration of railway policing into Police Scotland,” we can’t be sure we are out of the nationalist woods yet."
Cortes continued: “Humza is a canny politician with much charm. And whilst I’m hoping he’s just trying to spare his predecessor Michael Mathesons blushes for committing to an idiot policy that has put the nationalist interest before the national interest, I will be seeking assurances from him, that the merger is not an option that remains on the table.”
Scottish Labour's justice spokesman, Daniel Johnson, argued the government should rule out a merger completely.
He said: “This is a humiliating climbdown from the SNP, but it is the right approach to the future of our railways."
“Now the government’s dogmatic approach, which has resulted in huge uncertainty for BTP officers and staff, must be stopped."
In a statement, Mr Yousaf said: "Throughout this process we have been committed to listening to officers and staff."
“As part of that on-going approach I have decided that we will re-examine all options for the devolution of railway policing, with clear governance structures that ensure accountability to the Scottish Parliament."
"The absolute priority for all those involved is the safety and security of officers, staff and those who use Scotland's railways."
"I intend to update Parliament following summer recess. In the meantime I want to pay tribute to the on-going commitment of officers and staff of both police services, who I look forward to engaging with on this matter in the very near future."