Land trasport security - scope for further EU involvement? - Transport Committee Contents


Last year the European Commission published a staff working document that was principally concerned with extending the Commission's involvement in transport security matters from the aviation and maritime sectors to land transport. The Commission has not brought forward any legislative proposals, but it does suggest areas for consideration, some of which could lead to recommendations for legislation at a later stage.

Land transport security measures seek to prevent acts of unlawful interference against passengers, freight or transport infrastructure in the road and rail sectors. Unlawful interference, as referred to in the Commission's document, includes anything from terrorism to relatively minor crime against passengers and transport operators. The conflation of such wide-ranging security issues is not helpful and we urge the Government to ensure that any future EU land security transport proposals are more focussed.

Overall, we heard that the current risk-based approach to land transport security in the UK was working well and that security measures deployed across UK transport modes are proportionate to the current threats that any given sector is exposed to. However, some weaknesses in the UK's current land transport security regime were identified, including, for example, procedures for dealing with multi-modal transport hubs at which different threat levels are applied to different modes; ensuring that staff had a consistent level of training and an understanding of potential threats, risks and preventative measures; and the difficulty of maintaining a high level of both staff and public vigilance. The Department for Transport must ensure that these weaknesses are addressed at the appropriate level.

There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm, both from Government and industry, for further EU involvement in relation to land transport security, not least because the Government was concerned that action at EU-level might result in the levelling down of existing security measures in the UK. The lack of detail in the Commission's proposals makes it difficult for us to comment further at this stage.

The Commission's document identifies a number of interesting issues that warrant further attention by the House of Commons if and when more detailed proposals emerge. Our principal recommendation is that the Government should participate actively in EU discussions to ensure that any detailed proposals are focussed and appropriate to the UK. Parliament should be keep abreast of developments so that we can continue to contribute to the shaping of policy in this area.

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Prepared 22 March 2013