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Policing Controversial merger of transport police and national force delay welcomed by unions

UNIONS welcomed a delay to the controversial plan to merge railway police into the main Scottish force today.

The Scottish government was aiming to merge the British Transport Police (BTP) north of the border into the national force by April next year.

But Police Scotland says now that “unresolved issues” mean that the merger cannot be completed by that date “without compromising public safety.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the delay would allow for “enhanced engagement” with officers and staff over issues such as pay and conditions.

The plan has been bitterly fought by transport unions and opposition politicians, who say it would compromise morale as well as safety.

Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “This delay reopens the debate about whether this foolish and misguided merger should go ahead at all, given the distinctive nature and requirements of policing our railways.”

As the news broke, a new study found that almost two-thirds of BTP officers and staff in Scotland have considered leaving their job because of the planned merger.

The study, published by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, also found that 83 per cent of officers and staff were opposed to the plans.

Transport Salaried Staffs Association leader Manuel Cortes said the merger should be called off. “They got it badly wrong and should now bin their reckless and wrecking proposals,” he said.

Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “The proposals to merge the BTP with Police Scotland are opposed by everyone who knows anything about the way the railway works.”


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