The railway trade union RMT says it has written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling for the Conservative Party to drop plans to merge the British Transport Police (BTP) into a new national infrastructure police force if re-elected.
Within the Tory manifesto – under a section entitled ‘strengthening the police and security services’ – it talks about combining the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the Ministry of Defence Police and the BTP to create a new national infrastructure police force. The resulting organisation would improve the ‘protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites, railways and the strategic road network’.
RMT has said it was hypocritical of ministers to praise BTP officers for their bravery following the terror attack in London on June 3 while planning such a merger. There are already steps being taken to integrate Scotland’s BTP force with Police Scotland.
BTP, which describes itself as one of the oldest police forces in the world, has more than 3,000 officers stationed around the country to protect the travelling public and railway staff.
The force has its own firearms unit as well as a dedicated team for dealing with unattended items on the railway, the BTP Specialist Response Unit (SRU). Through its Project Griffin, BTP also provides training to rail industry staff to raise awareness about the risk of terrorism on the network.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, ‘Rail staff are the eyes and ears of the rail network who are especially trained to help prevent terrorist attacks yet one day the government is praising rail workers as heroes and next day they are cutting rail workers – it is not only hypocrisy it is also pure folly.
‘On top of this the Tory manifesto is proposing to abolish the British Transport Police. Not only will this increase the terrorist threat by diluting a specialist police operation on the railway it will also mean that the force will be subject to a major reorganisation and no doubt cuts when it should be focusing on the terrorist threat.’