British Transport Police: Wikis


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British Transport Police
Heddlu Trafnidiaeth Prydeinig (Welsh)
Abbreviation BTP
BTP logo.JPG
Logo of the British Transport Police.
Agency overview
Formed 1948
Annual budget £187.7 million[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Map of British Transport Police's jurisdiction.
Size 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of track and more than 3,000 railway stations and depots.
Population Six million passengers[2]
Legal jurisdiction National Rail Network, London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, Midland Metro, Tramlink, Glasgow Subway, Sunderland line of the Tyne & Wear Metro
Constituting instruments
  • British Transport Commission Act 1949
  • Transport Police (Jurisdiction) Act 1994
  • Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Railways, tramways, and-or rail transit systems.
Operational structure
Overviewed by British Transport Police Authority
Headquarters Camden Town, London
Sworn members 2,835[3]
Staff members 1,455
Agency executive Andrew Trotter, Chief Constable
Stations 88

The British Transport Police (BTP) (Welsh: Heddlu Trafnidiaeth Prydeinig) is a special police force[4] that polices those railways and light-rail systems in Great Britain for which it has entered into an agreement to provide such services.[5] British Transport Police officers do not have any jurisdiction in Northern Ireland,[6] where policing of the railways is the responsibility of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.



As well as having jurisdiction of the system operated by Network Rail consequential to being a former part of British Railways, the BTP are also responsible for policing:

This amounts to around 10,000 miles of track and more than 3,000 railway stations and depots. There are more than 1 billion passenger journeys annually on the mainline alone.

In addition, the British Transport Police in conjunction with the French Police aux Frontières, police the international services operated by Eurostar[7].

It is not responsible for policing the rest of the Tyne and Wear Metro or the Manchester Metrolink or any other railway with which it does not have a service agreement; it can act as a constabulary for a transport system in Great Britain with which it commences a service agreement. It does not police any heritage railways.

In certain circumstances a BTP constable can act as a police constable outside of their normal railway jurisdiction as described in the "Powers and status of officers" section.


As of November 2009 the BTP has 2,885 Police Officers, 218 Special Constables, 327 Police Community Support Officers, and 1334 police staff throughout England, Wales, and Scotland. [8] Since June 2009 the Chief Constable has been Andy Trotter OBE, QPM.



The force is divided into seven areas:[9]

Area Area Commander Area HQ Location
Scotland Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird Glasgow
North Eastern Chief Superintendent Terry Nicholson Leeds
North Western Chief Superintendent Peter Holden Manchester
London North Chief Superintendent Mark Newton London (Caledonian Road)
London South Chief Superintendent Steve Morgan QPM London (London Bridge Street)
London Underground Chief Superintendent Miles Flood London (Broadway)
Wales & Western Chief Superintendent Peter Davies Birmingham

Neighbourhood Policing Teams

British Transport Police outlines the aims of Neighbourhood Policing as allowing dedicated teams to focus on certain sections of commuter lines; dealing with the issues therein and providing safer stations and safer journeys[10].

Each division has certain Neighbourhood Policing Teams and the table below outlines the aforementioned teams:

British Transport Police: Neighbourhood Policing Teams[11]
Division Neighbourhood Policing Teams Officer in Charge
Scotland Edinburgh Waverley; Glasgow Central; Glasgow Queen Street; Glasgow Subway; Stirling; Haymarket to Falkirk Chief Inspector Dave Marshall
North Western Southport; Manchester; Wirral Chief Inspector Eddie Wylie
North Eastern Leeds (covering West Yorkshire); York (East Coast Main Line); Nottingham (Robin Hood Line) Chief Inspector David Oram
Wales & Western Birmingham; West Midlands Cross City; Pontypridd; Newport Chief Inspector Sandra England
London North Euston; Kings Cross; Liverpool Street; Paddington; St Pancras Superintendent Paul Brogden
London South Clapham; Lewisham; London Bridge; London Bridge First Capital Connect; Victoria; Victoria Loop; Waterloo; Richmond; Bromley Chief Inspector Jim Little
London Underground & DLR Inner London Central Line and Bakerloo; Inner London District and Northern Line; Inner London Victoria and Piccadilly Line; Met, Ham and Circle Line; Central Line East; Central Line West; Central Line North West; District Line East; District Line West; District and Circle Line South; Piccadilly Line West; Piccadilly Line North West; Piccadilly Line North; Northern Line North; Jubilee Line East; Jubilee Line North; DLR; East London Line Extension; Victoria Line North; Victoria and Northern Line South; Hammersmith and City Line; Bakerloo and Jubilee Line South; Bakerloo Line North; Metropolitan Line North West Chief Inspector Paul Wilson

BTP has appeared on UK television in Railcops.[12]

As of November 2009 BTP had a strength of 2,885 regular police officers. In terms of regular officer numbers this means BTP is 19th largest police force in England & Wales and Scotland in comparison to the 51 territorial police forces of Great Britain.[13]



The first railway employees described as "police" can be traced back to 30 June 1826. A regulation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway refers to the police establishment of "One Superintendent, four officers and numerous gate-keepers". This is the first mention of Railway Police anywhere and was three years before the Metropolitan Police Act was passed. They were not, however, described as "constables" and the description may refer to men controlling the trains not enforcing the law. Specific reference to "constables" rather than mere "policemen" is made by the BTP website article A History of Policing the Railwaywhich states "The London, Birmingham and Liverpool Railway Companion of 1838 reports 'Each Constable, besides being in the employ of the company, is sworn as a County Constable". Further reference is made by the BTP in the page[14] to "an Act of 1838...which according to J.R. Whitbread in 'The Railway Policeman' (Harrap, 1961) was the first legislation to provide for any form of policing of the railway whilst under construction, i.e. to protect the public from the navvies more or less."

The modern British Transport Police was formed by the British Transport Commission Act 1949[15] which combined the already-existing police forces inherited from the pre-nationalisation railways by British Railways, those forces having been previously formed by powers available under Common Law to parishes, landowners and other bodies to appoint constables to patrol land and/or property under their control. This is distinct from the establishment of a police force by statute, as applicable to the Metropolitan Police in 1829; BTP did not have jurisdiction on a statutory basis until the enactment of the Transport Police (Jurisdiction) Act 1994,[16] which was subsequently amended by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.[17]

"Policeman" v. "Constable"

Some early 19th century references to "railway police" or "policemen" do not concern constables but instead describe the men responsible for the signalling and control of the movement of trains (it is still common colloquial practice within railway staff for their modern equivalents in signal boxes and signalling centres to be called "Bobbies"). These personnel carried out their duties mostly in the open beside the track and were often dressed in a similar manner (e.g. a top hat and frock coat) to early police constables but were not directly concerned with law enforcement. Historical references (including those originating from the BTP itself) to when the first group of true "constables" was organised to patrol a railway should be treated with caution. This warning is repeated by the Metropolitan Police (MP) in their Metropolitan Police Records of Service web page dealing with MP records of service which on the matter of records of other forces held by the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) states: "The occasional references to 'Police Department' in the railway staff records relate to signalmen, etc"


A huge workforce was required to build the ever expanding railway system. These armies of rough workers brought fear into rural Victorian England. The Special Constables Act 1838 was passed which required railway and other companies to bear the cost of constables keeping the peace near construction works.

Historical crime

The continually expanding network of railways gave criminals new opportunities to move around the country and commit crime. The railways were pioneers of the electric telegraph and its use often involved the arrest of criminals arriving or departing by train. On 1 January 1845 a Railway Police Sergeant became the first person to arrest a murderer following the use of an electric telegraph.

In 1838 the Royal Mail was conveyed by rail for the first time. The first mail thefts were reported shortly afterwards. In 1848 the Eastern Counties Railway lost 76 pieces of luggage in just one day, and by the following year thefts from the largest six railways amounted to over £100,000 a year.

The first railway murder was committed by Franz Muller, who robbed and killed a fellow passenger on a North London Railway train in 1864.

The first arrest abroad by the British Police was made in 1874 when a Metropolitan Police Inspector accompanied by a Railway Police Inspector went to the United States to arrest an embezzler.


From 1900 several railway companies re-organised their police forces. The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway virtually reformed their police force from scratch in that year, followed by the Great Eastern Railway, the North Eastern Railway and Midland Railway in 1910, the Caledonian Railway in 1917 and lastly the Great Western Railway in 1918.

Inter-war years

The Railways Act 1921 amalgamated over one hundred separate railway systems (of which about 20 had organised police forces) into four groups:-

Each had its own police force controlled by a Chief of Police. These four forces were organised in the same way; each split into a number of Divisions headed by a Superintendent, divided into a number of Divisions Posts led by an Inspector. Detectives worked with their uniformed colleagues at most locations. Many ' non-police' duties were retained however, with officers acting as crossing keepers or locking and sealing wagons.

World War II

During the war the strength of the railway police doubled. With many men conscripted, special constables and women police were again employed.

Post war

In 1947 the Transport Act created the British Transport Commission (BTC) which unified the railway system. On 1 January 1949 the British Transport Commission Police were created, formed from the four old railway police forces, canal police and several minor dock forces. In 1957 the Maxwell-Johnson enquiry found that policing requirements for the railway could not be met by civil forces and that it was essential that a specialist police force be retained. On 1 January 1962 the British Transport Commission Police ceased to cover British Waterways property [18] and exactly a year later when the BTC was abolished the name of the force was amended to the British Transport Police. In 1984 London Buses decided not to use the British Transport Police. The British Transport Docks Board followed in 1985.

The force played a central role in the response to the 7 July 2005 London bombings. Three of the incidents were at London Underground stations: Edgware Road (Circle Line), Russell Square and Aldgate stations.

On 15 July 2006, a Dog Section Training School was opened at the Force Training establishment near Tadworth, Surrey.

How the BTP is funded

The British Transport Police is largely funded by the train operating companies, Network Rail, and the London Underground - part of Transport for London.[19] Around 95% of BTP's funding comes from the train operating companies.[20] Other operators with whom the BTP has a service agreement also contribute appropriately. This funding arrangement does not give the companies power to set objectives for the BTP but there are industry representatives serving as members of the police authority.[21] The police authority does, of course, decide objectives. The industry membership represent 5 out of 13 members.

The police authority has agreed its budget for 2007/08 at £187.8M – a 9.9% rise.[22]


Constables of the BTP are required by s.24 of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 to make one of the following attestations depending on the jurisdiction in which they have been appointed:

in England and Wales

I...of the British Transport Police do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence, and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold said office I will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, discharge all the duties thereof faithfully and according to law.

[citation needed]

Police Act 1996, Schedule 4 as amended.

The attestation can be made in Welsh.

in Scotland

Constables are required to take the oath referred to (but not defined) in s.16 Police (Scotland) Act 1967. which is in simpler form merely declaring faithfully to execute the duties of his office.[23]

Communications and Control rooms

As of March 2009, BTP operates two control rooms and one Call Handling Centre:

Powers and status of officers

General powers

British Transport Police officers have "all the power and privileges of a constable" when:

  • on track, (any land or other property comprising the permanent way of any railway, taken together with the ballast, sleepers and metals laid thereon, whether or not the land or other property is also used for other purposes, any level crossings, bridges, viaducts, tunnels, culverts, retaining walls, or other structures used or to be used for the support of, or otherwise in connection with, track; and any walls, fences or other structures bounding the railway or bounding any adjacent or adjoining property)[26]
  • on network, (a railway line, or installations associated with a railway line)[26]
  • in a station, (any land or other property which consists of premises used as, or for the purposes of, or otherwise in connection with, a railway passenger station or railway passenger terminal (including any approaches, forecourt, cycle store or car park), whether or not the land or other property is, or the premises are, also used for other purposes)[26]
  • in a light maintenance depot,
  • on other land used for purposes of or in relation to a railway,
  • on other land in which a person who provides railway services has a freehold or leasehold interest, and
  • throughout Great Britain for a purpose connected to a railway or to anything occurring on or in relation to a railway.

"Railway" means a system of transport employing parallel rails which provide support and guidance for vehicles carried on flanged wheels, and form a track which either is of a gauge of at least 350 millimetres or crosses a carriageway (whether or not on the same level).[27]

A BTP constable may enter

  • track,
  • a network,
  • a station,
  • a light maintenance depot, and
  • a railway vehicle.

without a warrant, using reasonable force if necessary, and whether or not an offence has been committed.[28] It is an offence to assault or impersonate a BTP constable.[29]

Outside natural jurisdiction

They need however to move between railway sites and often have a presence in city centres. Consequently, BTP officers can be called upon to intervene in incidents outside their natural jurisdiction. ACPO estimate that some such 8,000 incidents occur every year. As a result of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001[30] BTP officers can act as police constables outside their normal jurisdiction in the following circumstances:

On the request of constable

If requested by a constable of:

to assist him in the execution of his duties in relation to a particular incident, investigation or operation, a BTP constable can "take on" the powers of the requesting officer for the purposes of that incident, investigation or operation.[31] If a constable from a territorial police force makes the request, then the powers of the BTP constable extend only to the requesting constable's police area.[31] If a constable from the MDP or CNC makes the request, then the powers of the BTP officer are the same as those of the requesting constable.[31]

On the request of a Chief Constable (Mutual Aid)

If requested by the Chief Constable of one of the forces mentioned above, a BTP constable takes on all the powers and privileges of members of the requesting force.[32] This power is used for planned operations, such as the 2005 G8 summit at Gleneagles.

Spontaneous requirement outside natural jurisdiction

A BTP constable can take on the same powers and privileges of a constable of a territorial police force:[31]

  • in relation to people whom they suspect on reasonable grounds of having committed, being in the course of committing or being about to commit an offence, or
  • if they believe on reasonable grounds that they need those powers and privileges in order to save life or to prevent or minimise personal injury.

A BTP constable may only use such powers if he believes on reasonable grounds that if he cannot do so until he secures the attendance of or a request from a local constable (as above), the purpose for which he believes it ought to be exercised will be frustrated or seriously prejudiced.[31]

The policing protocol between BTP & Home Office forces set outs the practical use of these extended powers.

"Other than in the circumstances set out under Mutual Aid, British Transport Police officers will not normally seek to exercise extended jurisdiction arrangements to deal with other matters unless they come across an incident requiring police action whilst in the course of their normal duties.

Whenever British Transport Police officers exercise police powers under the Extended Jurisdiction Arrangements the BTP Chief Constable will ensure that the relevant Local Chief Constable is notified as soon as practicable."

Channel Tunnel

When policing the Channel Tunnel, BTP constables have the same powers and privileges as members of Kent Police.[33]

Cross-border powers

A BTP constable can,

  • when in Scotland, execute an arrest warrant, warrant of commitment and a warrant to arrest a witness (from England, Wales or Northern Ireland),[34] and
  • when in England or Wales, execute a warrant for committal, a warrant to imprison (or to apprehend and imprison) and a warrant to arrest a witness (from Scotland).[34]

When executing a warrant issued in Scotland, a BTP constable executing it shall have the same powers and duties, and the person arrested the same rights, as they would have had if execution had been in Scotland by a constable of a police force in Scotland.[34] When executing a warrant issued in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, a constable may use reasonable force and has specified search powers provided by section 139 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.[34]


BTP uniforms are similar and the rank system identical to other British police forces. Officers often wear distinctive black jerseys with a black and white chequered pattern on the yoke. Officers in Scotland have adopted the same uniform as the Scottish forces.

A BTP constable does not lose the ability to exercise his powers when off duty except for those functions which require the wearing of a uniform.

On 1 July 2004 a Police Authority for the British Transport Police was created.[35] BTP Officers became employees of the Police Authority, prior to that, they were employees of the Strategic Rail Authority.

Accident investigation

A British Transport Police motorcycle in London

Until the 1990s the principal investigators of railway accidents were the Inspecting Officers of HM Railway Inspectorate, and BTP involvement was minimal. With major accidents after the 1988 Clapham Junction rail crash being investigated by more adversarial public inquiries, the BTP took on a more proactive role in crash investigations. Further reforms led to the creation by the Department for Transport of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch who take the lead role in investigations of accidents.

Crime on the railway

Sign of British Transport Police at a railway station in Wales

Operation Shield is an initiative by BTP to reduce the number of knives carried by passengers on the rail network. This initiative came about after knife crime began to rise and also because of the murder of a passenger on a Virgin Trains service travelling from Glasgow.[36]

Route crime

Route Crime[37] collectively describes crimes and offences of trespass and vandalism which occur on railway lines and can affect the running of train services. It is a minor but significant cause of death on British railways. The overwhelming majority - 95% in 2005[38] - of deaths are suicides with the rest being attributed to trespass.[39]

Graffiti costs rail firms over £5m a year in direct costs alone[40] The BTP maintains a graffiti database which holds over 1900 graffiti tags, each unique to an individual. In 2005 BTP sent 569 suspects to court (an increase of 16% on 2004 figures). Surveys show that fear of crime is exacerbated by graffiti.[41]

The BTP deals with hundreds of instances of theft each day including stolen property and the theft of metals such as copper from railway safety equipment[42] In the North West Area BTP has joined forces with Lancashire Constabulary and Network Rail to combat thefts of metals from railway lines in an initiative called Operation Tremor. The BTP established Operation Drum in 2006 as a national response to the increase in metal theft offences and also chairs the relevant Association of Chief Police Officers working group.[43]

It is estimated that:[39]

  • 17 million offences of criminal trespass on the railways are committed annually by adults
  • 10 million offences of criminal trespass on the railways committed annually by children


BTP achieved all its operational targets for the year 2007/2008.[44]

Special Constabulary

British Transport Police first recruited Special Constables in a trial based in the North West Area in 1995, and this was expanded to the whole of Great Britain.

Many Specials are recruited from the wider railway community and those working for Train Operating Companies are encouraged by their employers.

Under the terms of the Railway and Transport Safety Act 2003 and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, BTP special constables have identical jurisdiction and powers to BTP regular constables; primary jurisdiction on any railway in Great Britain and a conditional jurisdiction in any other police force area. British Transport Police Special Constables do not wear the 'SC' insignia (a crown with the letters SC underneath) on their epaulettes unlike some of their counterparts in some Home Office police forces.

Proposed merger

Although the British Transport Police is not under the control of the Home Office, and as such was not included as part of the proposed mergers of the Home Office forces of England and Wales in early 2006, both Ken Livingstone and Sir Ian Blair stated publicly that they wanted a single police force in Greater London. As part of this, they wished to have the functions of the BTP within Greater London absorbed by the Metropolitan Police. However, following a review of the BTP by the Department for Transport, no changes to the form and function of the force were implemented, and any proposed merger did not happen.[45]

See also

External links


  1. ^ BTP Annual Report 2006/2007. p. 21
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "s.3(5) Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  5. ^ "Office of Public Sector Information Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (c. 20)". Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  6. ^ "s.31 Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  7. ^ "BTP site "About Us"". Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Force Areas
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Production Company for Railcops". 2004-07-07. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "The Scottish Railway Police"
  15. ^ reference in Transport Police (Jurisdiction) Act 1994, s.1
  16. ^ "Transport Police (Jurisdiction) Act 1994". 1994-03-24. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  17. ^ "Explanatory Notes to Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 - Background - paragraph 59". 2003-08-11. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  18. ^ "Sharpness Dock Police (1874 - 1948)". Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  19. ^ (PDF) British Transport Police Annual Report 2004/2005. p. 8. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  20. ^ Ayling, Julie (2008), "Taking Care of Business: Public police as commercial security vendors", Criminology and Criminal Justice 8 (1): 27–50, doi:10.1177/1748895807085868 
  21. ^ Police Authority
  22. ^ Police Authority announcement
  23. ^ "The Scottish situation is unique as no oath is set out in legislation. The only requirement is that a declaration be made before a sheriff or Justice of the Peace in appropriate terms for the position of appointment." [Review of Oaths and Affirmations, New Zealand Ministry of Justice, May 2004]
  24. ^ "HMIC - Baseline Assessment Project". Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  25. ^ "BTP - Control Room Project". Retrieved 20 January 2008. 
  26. ^ a b c "Railways Act 1993 (c. 43)". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  27. ^ "Transport and Works Act 1992 (c. 42)". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  28. ^ "Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (c. 20)". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  29. ^ "Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 (c. 20)". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  30. ^ Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, s.100(2)
  31. ^ a b c d e "Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c.24) - Statute Law Database". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  32. ^ "Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c.24) - Statute Law Database". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b c d section 136, Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994
  35. ^ "s18 Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003". 2003-07-10. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  36. ^ "Website: Man quizzed over stabbing 28 May 06 (accessed 19 Mar 07)". BBC News. 2006-05-28. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  37. ^ "Office of Rail Regulation (accessed 21/12/06". 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  38. ^ 1
  39. ^ a b Route Crime, Railways Online (accessed 21/012/2006)
  40. ^ BTP: Issues, graffiti (accessed 19 Mar 07)
  41. ^ The Sharp End Issue 16 (published for the Home Office and sent to every Police officer, SC and Support Staff in England & Wales)
  42. ^ "Railway thieves risk their lives. TrackOff". Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  43. ^ BTP Operation Drum European Day of Action Press Release
  44. ^ [1] BTP - National Policing Plan
  45. ^ "Department for Transport - Review of British Transport Police undertaken by DfT 2005-2006". 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 


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