THE controversial merger of Police Scotland and British Transport Police must be immediately scrapped due to a “cavalier” attitude towards railway safety, rail unions have demanded. 
Union leaders are concerned that specialist staff will resign rather than serve in the new amalgamated force compromising safety across the rail network.
The warning follows a leaked watchdog report which concluded the merger was an “entirely” political decision and did not include a detailed business case.
Police watchdog – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) – also claimed that rail operators, which currently fund British Transport Police (BTP), have suggested the transfer to Police Scotland was a “material change” to existing agreements that may not receive their “consent”.
Now the Transport Salaried Staff’ Association have called for the merger to be scrapped.
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said the HMICS report leaked to The Herald had been a “damning indictment of the SNP’s cavalier attitude towards safeguarding our railways”. 
And he said the SNP had put “their nationalist cause before national interest”.
“They are the only stakeholder in British Transport Police in Scotland who have ever thought merging specialist transport police with Police Scotland was feasible,” he said. 
“Now that HMICS says that the Scottish Polices’ own watchdog, the Scottish Police Authority has neither the ‘capability or capacity’ to handle this merger, it must be abandoned forthwith. Whoever has leaked this report has done a great and a good public service.”
MSPs recently passed legislation aimed at merging railway policing north of the border into Police Scotland.
The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill is the first step towards the national force taking on the role of the BTP.
There had been a lengthy debate over the plan, with police bosses warning it could be “massively complicated” and “a real challenge”.
The bill confers extra powers on the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland, but further legislation would be needed at Holyrood and Westminster to transfer staff, properties and cross-border policing functions.
The Scottish government insists the integration will provide “efficient and effective” delivery of policing.
But there have been concerns ranging from how cross-border services would be affected to the potential dilution of the special skills of transport officers.
The BTP wanted to continue providing railway policing in Scotland, but with oversight from Holyrood rather than Westminster.
HMICS has carried out an overview of the transfer and a “factual accuracy draft” stated: “As the decision to transfer BTP’s functions in Scotland to Police Scotland was entirely a political decision, no detailed and authoritative business case which articulates the benefits, disadvantages or costs of the transfer to Police Scotland was developed.”
Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “This SNP merger has always been about politics – not keeping the public safe. 
“The Nationalists appear to have learned nothing from their botched centralisation of Police Scotland.” 
 A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Maintaining and improving safety and security is our main priority and Police Scotland will maintain a dedicated railway policing unit protected within the broader structure of the force.”

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