3 Strategy |
14. In line with its specialist remit, the BTP has
developed a risk-based approach to policing the railway that is
designed to meet the needs of both the railway industry and the
travelling public. It set out how it implemented that approach:
Over the last 10 years BTP has assessed over
10,000 bomb threats and not once recommended closure. The financial
saving for the rail industry achieved by avoiding unnecessary
closure of the system through this approach is assessed in the
billions of pounds. The wider economic benefit to the UK economy
is higher. The investigatory methods BTP has developed also bring
significant benefit to passengers and industry in terms of reducing
delay and improving safety. For example, when BTP is the first
responder to a fatality incident, closures last half the time,
and cable theft incidents are dealt with in a third of the time
when BTP is first on the scene.
15. We explored the question whether the BTP's commitment
to minimising delays might compromise security. The BTP pointed
out that its first priority is passenger safety:
We have established over many years a very mature
relationship with the operators. I think they respect and understand
that, if we ask for something to be done in the interests of security
or preventing crime, we have taken into account the impact that
it has. If we ask them to do it, there is a reason why we are
asking them to do it
that is what comes from the strength
of a specialised transport policing organisation that demonstrates
on a day-to-day basis that it understands the context and is able
to balance the public interest, which must always prevail, against
the impact of our actions on the industry.
The BTPA added that "this is a public police
force; it is not G4S
at the end of the day, this police
force has its own accountability and responsibilities as a public
police force." We
were convinced by the case for a risk-based approach to policing
Britain's railways. We were impressed by the BTP's commitment
to tackling crime while minimising delays for the travelling public.
16. The BTP has proven counter-terrorism capabilities.
The DfT observed that those capabilities were "strikingly
evidenced during the terrorist attacks on London in 2005"
and highlighted the "BTP's role in helping to keep London
running in the most testing circumstances."
The BTP has developed its approach to managing the risk posed
by terrorism over several decades. It pointed out that its method
was "developed through all the terrorism threats through
the '80s and '90s".
It added that it
rarely recommends to the train operators that
they should close if we get a bomb threat. On the rare occasions
that we do, they take it very seriously because they know that
we apply a lot of thought and risk management to that decision.
17. We examined how the BTP accessed the necessary
intelligence to inform its counter-terrorism policing. We were
concerned that the BTP might not have access to all relevant information
because it did not fall within the purview of the Home Office
(see paragraph 11). The BTP reassured us that it is
linked to all the national and
regional structures. We are very closely linked, for example,
with the Metropolitan Police and the counter-terrorism command,
as well as with regional counter-terrorism structures throughout
the UK. We are very closely linked into the security services
and various other sources of intelligence data.
The BTP has a
proven record of successful risk-based, counter-terrorist policing,
which depends on accurate and up-to-date intelligence. The BTP
must maintain and develop its liaison links with other police
forces and the security services to ensure that it has the latest
intelligence on major threats.
18. Until 2010, the DfT maintained the Transport
Security Directorate (TRANSEC) to co-ordinate its departmental-level
response to terrorist and other major threats to transport. We
examined how the DfT addressed such threats following the closure
of TRANSEC. The DfT explained how it had reallocated its resources
to cover different types of transport:
The expertise still exists; it is just that it
exists in different places. Rather than there being a single unit
known as the Transport Security Directorate, a number of different
units now look after different aspects for the different modes.
reorganisation of TRANSEC, it is important that the DfT maintains
sufficient expertise at a departmental level to address major
threats to both the railway and other transport modes.
Expanding specialist transport
19. Unlike railways, roads, ports and airports are
patrolled by local police forces rather than by specialist police.
For example, Gatwick airport is patrolled by Sussex Police because
it is in Sussex.
We identified how the BTP's transport specialism allowed it to
maximise security while minimising delays on the railway (see
paragraph 14). We therefore explored whether specialised policing
might usefully be applied to other transport modes. In particular,
we questioned whether the BTP's remit might be extended to encompass
airports. The BTP stated that there
are transferrable skills for managing risk in
the railway and managing risk in any transport network. I often
look at extensive road closures when there has been a fatal road
traffic collision and wonder how our approach might be applied
in those sorts of circumstances. There is definitely scope. It
is for others than me to decide whether that is the right thing,
but we would be very willing to look at it.
20. The DfT was not attracted by the notion of expanding
specialist transport policing. It argued that
much of the work around securing airports and
ensuring that they are safe, particularly from terrorism and from
takes place beyond the airport perimeter.
There is more logic to say that it should be for the local forces
who are policing outside the airport perimeter also to be responsible
for policing the airport itself.
We were not convinced by that argument, because the
BTP successfully polices railway stations while having no jurisdiction
beyond those stations' perimeters. In its 2004 review of the BTP,
the DfT expressed a more positive view on expanding the BTP's
remit to include airports:
Policing of airports involves the policing of
a transient population and requires policing to be undertaken
within a commercial environment. The risk management regime in
the aviation industry, particularly with regard to bomb threat
categorisation, was also likely to reflect the regime the BTP
had developed on the railway network. BTP's specialist skills
could therefore be readily adapted to the policing of airports.
may be value in applying BTP's specialist approach to policing
the railways to other transport modes, such as aviation. In particular,
if the BTP's funding structure and close working relationship
with transport providers were replicated at airports, it could
minimise delays, maximise security and reduce the cost of policing
for the taxpayer. The
DfT should examine the case for expanding the remit of the BTP
to include (a) aviation and (b) other modes of transport.
25 BTP (SOR 010) para 1.4 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 6.1 Back
DfT, Review of the British Transport Police, para 3.12 Back