House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Railways And Transport Safety Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 17: The British Transport Police Authority

50.     Clause 17 gives effect to Schedule 4. This Schedule gives details of membership and proceedings for the BTP Authority, as well as details about financial and pension arrangements for the Authority.

Clauses 20-25: Senior officers and constables of the BTP

51.     Clauses 20 (Chief Constable), 21 (Deputy Chief Constable), 22 (Assistant Chief Constables), 23 (constables), 24 (special constables) and 25 (cadets) make provision so that the BTP will have the same ranks as Home Office police forces under the Police Act 1996. These clauses also provide that these officers' functions, appointments and other associated matters are to be based on the provisions of the Police Act 1996.

52.     Only where it is necessary to meet the specific needs of the BTP, do the provisions in the Bill differ from the Police Act 1996. Provision made by regulations under the Bill will have to follow regulations made under the Police Act 1996, and can only make different provision to meet the specific circumstances of the BTP. This means that should the Secretary of State make regulations regarding the appointment, suspension and removal of the senior officers of the BTP, then such regulations would seek to replicate the existing provisions in the Police Act 1996, and any regulations made under that Act, only differing to take account of any specific needs of the BTP.

Clause 27: Terms of employment

53.     Clause 27 is designed to ensure that the BTP Authority's employment practices fall within the criteria set by the Secretary of State. The BTP's constables will hold the office of constable and also be employees of the Authority. In transferring their employment from the SRA to the Authority their existing terms and conditions of employment will be protected. Thus far the Secretary of State has retained an overarching control on BTP constables' pay through the SRA's financial framework. This clause will enable the Secretary of State to ensure that the Authority maintains pay parity for BTP constables with their Home Office colleagues.

Clause 29: Jurisdiction

54.     The BTP's main duties consist of public policing, exactly like a Home Office police force. However, unlike a Home Office force, almost all of the BTP's duties, and in particular its patrols, occur on private property, albeit private property to which the public has access i.e. railway stations and trains. The BTP's existing jurisdiction on this private property flows from a combination of a 1949 private Act of Parliament 2 and numerous private agreements between the SRA and the railway companies. Most operators of railway vehicles and certain railway assets are required under the licensing regime in the Railways Act 1993 to have a licence. It is a condition of those licences that the operator must enter in to an agreement with the SRA to engage the services of the BTP on its property. It is these agreements, combined with the 1949 Act that gives the BTP the right to police most railway property as of right.

    2 Section 53 of The British Transport Commission Act 1949

55.     Clause 29 gives the BTP a wholly statutory railway jurisdiction throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Within this jurisdiction a BTP constable has the powers and privileges of a Home Office constable. The jurisdiction extends over all railway property. It also extends outside railway property (a town high street for example) throughout Great Britain in relation to railway matters. This jurisdiction would, for example, allow a BTP constable to pursue a person who commits an offence on the railways but then absconds from railway property.

56.     In order to allow the BTP to police railway property on a day-to-day basis, clause 29(2) & (3) gives the BTP constable a statutory right to enter and police certain defined areas of railway property.

57.     On property not listed in clause 29(3), the BTP constable is subject to the same restrictions that apply to a Home Office constable. In particular, an officer would be unable to enter private property unless invited, holding a warrant, or exercising some other right of entry (in another act of Parliament for example).

Clause 30: Prosecution

58.     Although normally prosecutions in serious cases will continue to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service the BTP does prosecute minor offences particularly those under the various railways bye-laws and it is expected that BTP officers will continue to do so.

Clauses 31-33: Police Services Agreements

59.     The BTP will continue to be funded by the railway industry. Certain operators will be required to engage the police services of the BTP, other operators will have the choice. Clause 31 provides for a system of Police Services Agreements, that will act as the means by which the financial arrangements between the Authority and railway operators are calculated and set out. Clause 32 gives the Secretary of State power to make orders requiring certain railway operators to enter into a Police Services Agreement. Where an operator is required to enter into such an agreement fails to do so, it will commit an offence if it then provides railway services, as defined in clause 72(2).

60.     Clause 33 makes provision on disputes relating to police services agreements. Similar provision is currently contained in paragraph 6(b) of the British Transport Police Force Scheme 1963 3, and associated non-statutory rules. Disputes will be determined by the Secretary of State, with 33(8) providing a means of appeal to the High Court from the Secretary of State's determination on a point of law.

    3 As set out in the Schedule to The British Transport Police Force Scheme 1963 (Amendment) Order 1994 (S.I. 1994/609)

Clause 34-43: Police Regulations

61.     The Home Secretary has powers under the Police Act 1996 to make regulations regarding the government, administration and conditions of service in Home Office police forces.

62.     These regulations do not apply to the BTP. Instead the Strategic Rail Authority, as employer of the force, applies similar provision to BTP constables through other means, notably BTP constables conditions of employment and Force General Orders. Clauses 34 (Police regulations: General), 35 (Police regulations: special constables), 36 (Police regulations: cadets) and 37 (British Transport Police Federation) enable the Authority to make non-statutory regulations that are consistent with Home Office regulations. Such regulations may only differ from the regulations made under the Police Act 1996 to meet the specific needs of the BTP.

63.     Clause 38 provides that the Authority can only make such non-statutory regulations if the Chief Constable and the staff associations have approved the draft. Any such non-statutory regulations would also need the prior approval of the Secretary of State. This will ensure that such non-statutory regulations proposed by the Authority do not differ unduly from regulations made under the Police Act 1996. If the Authority is unable to reach agreement with the Chief Constable and the staff associations then the Secretary of State may direct the Authority to prepare draft regulations under clause 39. In these circumstances clause 38(3) enables the Secretary of State to permit the Authority to dispense with obtaining the prior approval of the Chief Constable and staff associations.

64.     Clause 40 enables the Secretary of State to make statutory regulations in relation to the BTP. This power would be used sparingly in circumstances such as where the Authority is unable to make regulations itself. These regulations would override any incompatible provisions of non-statutory regulations made by the Authority. The Secretary of State would be required to consult the Authority, the Chief Constable and BTP staff associations before making such regulations. In particular the Secretary of State would have power to make regulations in relation to disciplinary procedures (clause 41), equipment (clause 42) and procedure and practice of the BTP (clause 43). These provisions would mirror similar provisions in the Police Act 1996.

Clauses 47-52: Planning

65.     Clauses 47 (Policing objectives: Authority), 48 (Policing objectives: Secretary of State), 49 (Railways policing plan), and 50 (Performance targets), are based on provisions of the Police Act 1996. Clauses 52 (Three-year strategy plan) and 44 (Code of practice: Authority) apply provisions of the Police Act 1996 to the Authority. Only where necessary to meet the specific needs of the Authority and the BTP do these provisions differ from the Police Act 1996. This is to ensure that the Authority operates in the same framework of governance as Home Office police authorities.

66.     Unlike 1996 Police Act police authorities, the BTP and its Committee are not subject to the Local Government Act 1999 "best value duty" - although on a day-to-day basis, they act as if they were. Clause 51 gives the Secretary of State the power to direct the Authority to apply any requirement that he could make in respect of a "best value authority" under the 1999 Act.

Clauses 53-57: Information etc

67.     Clauses 53 (Reports by Chief Constable), 54 (Annual report by Authority), 55 (Other reports to Secretary of State), 56 (Statistics) and 57 (Inquiry) are based on provisions of the Police Act 1996 and Police Act 1997 regarding information that the Authority and Chief Constable are to provide to the Secretary of State, and in certain instances lay before both Houses of Parliament or publish. Only where necessary to meet the specific needs of the Authority and the BTP have the corresponding provisions in the Police Act 1996 and Police Act 1997 not been followed.

Clause 60-64: Inspection

68.     Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspects and reports to the Secretary of State on the efficiency and effectiveness of all Home Office police forces under provisions in the Police Act 1996. These provisions also allow the Secretary of State to give certain directions to a Police Authority where HMIC consider that the whole or any part of the relevant police force is not efficient or effective, or will cease to be so unless remedial measures are taken. The BTP have not fallen under the statutory remit of HMIC in the past, but the BTP Committee has invited HMIC to undertake detailed assessments of the operational performance and organisation of the BTP every three years applying the same standards as for Home Office police forces.

69.     Clause 60 (Inspection) places a statutory duty on HMIC to inspect the BTP and report to the Secretary of State regularly and also at the request of the Secretary of State. Clauses 61 (Action after an adverse inspection report), 62 (Remedial direction), 63 (Action Plan) and 64 (Senior appointment: delegation of function) provide the Secretary of State with powers of direction following an adverse HMIC report. The clauses, modelled on similar provisions in the Police Act 1996, enable the Secretary of State to direct the Authority to take specified actions or ask it to produce an action plan to remedy any Force deficiencies. The same procedures, including consulting with the Authority and Chief Constable, will apply to the Secretary of State regarding the BTP in the same way as they apply to Home Office police forces.

70.     The main difference between the BTP and Home Office police forces will be that the Authority will continue to meet the full costs of HMIC inspections of the BTP. This is in line with other non-Home Office police forces such as the Ministry of Defence Police Force, the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary and the Isle of Man Police Force whereas inspections of Home Office police forces are funded centrally.

71.     The HMIC in England and Wales will continue to be responsible for inspections of the BTP as a whole. Within Scotland, HMIC (Scotland) will be given a statutory duty to inspect the BTP and report to the Secretary of State in so far as the BTP operates in Scotland.

Clause 70: transitional and incidental provision

72.     Clause 70 includes powers under subsections (3)(e) to (g), to make transitional provision to a relevant pension scheme to ensure continuity following the establishment of the Authority, whilst recognising the direct relationship between the new Authority and the Secretary of State. For example, subsection (3)(g) would enable modifications to be made to the procedural or structural arrangements of staff pension schemes (excluding benefit/contribution/funding structures) as a consequence of the new relationship. Subsection (3)(f) would enable existing enactments about pension schemes to have immediate effect, e.g. to apply the provisions of Section 16 of the 1995 Pensions Act covering pension members' rights to select trustees.

Public sector financial and manpower cost

73.     The measures relating to the British Transport Police will not require additional direct public expenditure, since the BTP will continue to be funded by the railway industry. The additional administrative cost of a police authority of 13 members over the cost of the current Committee of 9 is estimated at £50,000 per annum. This compares to the BTP's total annual budget of £130 million.

Human Rights assessment

74.     The BTP provisions of this Bill are considered to be compatible with the Convention. Although BTP constables will be given the right to enter railway property such as railways stations and rail vehicles, which engages the Article 8 right to a private life and the Article 1 of the First Protocol right to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions, it is considered that any such interference is justified. First the exercise of this power is limited to defined pieces of railways property. Second the power is available to the BTP constable so he may ensure public safety, and prevent crime and disorder.

75.     Certain persons, such as train companies, will be required by order made under provisions in this Bill to enter in to police services agreements with the new BTP Authority, and under which agreements payment must be made to the BTP Authority. This engages Article 1 of the First Protocol, which protects the economic interests of a person running a business. It is considered that any interference this obligation causes with this right can be justified on the basis that it is in the general interest that the railways are policed, and that if the BTP Authority were not funded it could not make provision for a police force for the railways.

Part 4 - Shipping: Alcohol and Drugs

76.     This Part extends to any professional and (subject to any exceptions made by regulations) to any non-professional mariner sailing in United Kingdom waters, as well as to mariners in United Kingdom-registered ships elsewhere. It does not extend to non-professional mariners in Scotland.


77.     There is at present no specific legislation to regulate alcohol consumption in the maritime industry apart from a general provision in section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. This makes it an offence for the master or a seaman employed in a UK-registered ship, or in a foreign ship in a UK port or in UK waters on its way to or from a UK port, to endanger his ship or other ships by reason of being under the influence of drink (or drugs). There is no maximum blood/alcohol limit specified.

78.     Following the Marine Accident Investigation Branch's (MAIB) inquiry into the Marchioness disaster in 1989, the then Government asked John Hayes to conduct a wider inquiry into river safety. The Hayes Report, published in 1992, made 22 recommendations. Recommendation 18 says:

"The Department [of Transport], after appropriate consultation, should promote legislation to introduce a breath test similar to that applying to motor vehicle drivers which would apply to the skippers and crew of all vessels."

79.     On 18 August 1999, the Deputy Prime Minister announced an inquiry to review all the arrangements to ensure safety on the Thames. Amongst other things, the inquiry chairman, Lord Justice Clarke, recommended that:

"Alcohol legislation for vessels should be in the form of primary legislation and an offence

similar to that of being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs should also be introduced for vessels.

Subject to consultation:

Alcohol legislation should extend to all persons on duty whose duties extend to the navigation of the ship, the operation of her engines or navigational equipment and any member of the crew (including bar and catering staff) who might be called on to assist in the event of an emergency.

It should extend to private pleasure craft.

It should apply to all vessels in UK waters, irrespective of flag.

Breath testing should be carried out after an accident or if there is reason to suspect a breach of the law but there should not be random testing."

80.     On 23 March 2001, Lord Justice Clarke published his report of the Formal Investigation into the collision between the Marchioness and the Bowbelle. His first recommendation was to refer to proposals put forward by the Department that reflected the position set out in paragraph 79:

"We endorse the proposed legislation and recommend that it be enacted as soon as possible."

81.     The Government accepted this recommendation.

Commentary on clauses

82.     This Part of the Bill provides for the creation of statutory alcohol limits for mariners, and the creation of an alcohol testing regime. These provisions largely mirror provisions for road users and safety-critical staff on railways and related transport systems. This Bill also provides powers to extend this regime to include other intoxicating drugs.

83.     This Bill seeks to ensure that an alcohol-testing regime is put in place in a similar manner to that already existing in other transport modes. The provisions in this Bill therefore largely mirror those of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 and the Transport and Works Act 1992. The following table shows the clauses of the current Bill which are drawn from provisions in the 1988 Acts and 1992 Act, along with a brief description of their effects.

RTS ClauseRoad Traffic Act 1988Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988Transport & Works Act 1992Description
76(2) and 77(2)
Section 4Section 27(1)Being impaired through drugs or alcohol
76(3) and 77(3)
Section 5Section 27(2)Having alcohol in body above prescribed limit
78 Section 11(2)Section 38(1)Prescribed limit
80 See table on face of BillSee table on face of BillSections 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35See table on face of Bill
82Sections 4(6) and 6(5) & (6)Section 30Powers of arrest without a warrant
83 Section 6(6)Section 30(3) and 30(4)Right of entry

Clause 75: Professional staff on duty

84.     Clause 75(5) preserves the defence available to persons employed or engaged in UK fishing vessels which was contained in section 117(2) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, which section is now repealed.

Clause 76: Professional staff off duty

85.     Clause 76 includes off duty sailors and professional seamen who may be called on in an emergency at any time to protect the safety of passengers.

Clause 77: Non-professionals

86.     Clause 77 includes non-professionals (recreational mariners). The offence created is a "moving" offence, which only applies if the vessel is in motion (in contrast to clauses 75 and 76). Clause 77 also provides a power to except non-professional mariners who do not pose substantial safety risks from the prescribed limits and the provision of specimens.

Clause 80: Specimens, &c.

87.     Clause 80 replicates certain provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988 with the intention of using the same procedures for taking specimens from mariners as for motorists.

88.     Clause 80 also applies certain provisions of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, to offences under clauses 75, 76 or 77 of this Bill by substituting navigation functions for references in the 1988 Act to driving a motor car.

Clause 81: Detention pending arrival of police

89.     At present, local bye-laws allow some harbour authority officials to exercise powers to detain ships whose pilots are suspected to be committing an offence of being impaired by drink or drugs. Clause 81 extends this regime to allow marine officials to detain a vessel when they reasonably suspect that a person on board is committing an offence under this Part. However, this clause does not apply to ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in order not to affect the operational effectiveness of the armed forces.

Clause 83: Right of entry

90.     Clause 83 differs slightly from the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Transport & Works Act 1992, in that it makes reference to "reasonable force" rather than "by force". This Bill also allows the police officer to be accompanied, where the 1988 Act and 1992 Act make no such provision. This clause does not extend to Scotland where adequate common law powers of entry exist.

Clause 85: Orders and regulations

91.     Clause 85 makes provision for the making of various orders and regulations under this Part. Under clause 77 regulations may be made to create exceptions removing non-professional mariners in certain specified categories from the offence of exceeding the prescribed alcohol limit. Regulations may be made under clause 78 altering the prescribed alcohol limits. Regulations may be made under clause 80 to amend the table, as necessary, to reflect any changes in road traffic legislation. Finally, orders can be made under clause 81 to designate marine officials who are able to detain a ship. Such orders are made using the negative resolution procedure. All other regulations under this Part are subject to the affirmative procedure.

Public sector financial and manpower cost

92.     It is difficult to quantify the financial costs to the public purse from the introduction and enforcement of an alcohol limit for mariners. The Association of Chief Police Officers has indicated that the slightly increased resource implications for the police would be largely offset by use of current resources such as harbour launches and search and rescue helicopters. The Department for Transport would fund any training necessary for police and marine officials to enforce these proposals. In particular, the training would cover techniques in boarding ships at sea by means of helicopter or ship to ship transfers. In terms of testing apparatus, there would be minimal costs for implementation of the alcohol provisions, since the testing regime would use equipment already in use for alcohol testing on the roads. The number of tests required is expected to be low, as would be the number of prosecution cases.

93.     Alcohol and drugs provisions, both in the marine and aviation sectors, will not require recruitment of more public sector workers, though there will be additional responsibilities on existing police, marine or legal officers.

Human Rights assessment

94.     This Part potentially engages Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 6 (right to a fair trial) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

95.     Article 5 is subject to the qualification of lawful arrest on reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed or for its prevention. The powers of arrest and detention contained in this Part are considered necessary and proportionate and within the qualification mentioned.

96.     Article 6 (which is linked to a privilege against self-incrimination) is engaged principally by the provisions requiring specimens of breath, blood or urine to be provided by a suspect. However, the courts have held that the privilege is not absolute in circumstances where a proportionate response is required to combat a serious social problem. This is considered to be such a case.

97.     Article 8 is subject to the qualification that a public authority may interfere with the right to private and family life provided that it does so in a proportionate manner for the prevention of crime and protection of the public.

98.     This Part is considered to be compatible with Convention rights.

Part 5 - Aviation: Alcohol and Drugs

99.     This Part extends to the flight and cabin crew of an aircraft, air traffic controllers and licensed aircraft maintenance engineers in the United Kingdom. It also applies to the crew of an aircraft registered in the United Kingdom wherever it may be in the world.

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Prepared: 14 January 2003