The Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference has today called for a halt to the merger of British Transport Police into Police Scotland and an independent commission to propose legislative solutions to repair the damage caused by the SNP's botched police centralisation.
Speaking after the debate, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP said:
“The only “business case” the SNP considered when pressing ahead with this misguided merger was a calculation of how quick they could scribble out the words “British”. This motion sends a clear message that they should go back to the drawing board.
"Ministers failed to do the basic work to identify and plan for the risks and implications of their latest centralisation.
“The officers and experts left to oversee this merger have been damning and the timetable proposed by the SNP slipped straight away amid warnings from the very top that ministers' plans would have compromised public safety.
" Scottish Liberal Democrats were right to warn SNP ministers not to repeat the mistakes they made in pushing through the botched Police Scotland centralisation. This latest centralisation is the last thing Police Scotland needs, and the last thing the British Transport Police want. The merger therefore should not go ahead.
“The Scottish Government must also now agree to an independent commission, appointed by the Scottish Parliament not ministers, so that the damage done by the 2012 Act can be repaired through new legislation, ensuring power is shared and that effective, democratic governance arrangements exist.”
Liam McArthur tabled amendments at Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill that would have delayed the merger of the British Transport Police into Police Scotland. These were opposed by the Scottish Government and Greens.
The motion adopted by conference calls for:
- The Scottish Government to agree to an independent commission, appointed by the Scottish Parliament not ministers, so that the damage done by the 2012 Act can be repaired through new legislation, ensuring power is shared and that effective, democratic governance arrangements exist.
- The Scottish Liberal Democrats to continue to press for the principles and reforms identified in the motion passed at its Scottish Conference in Autumn 2015 (Putting democracy back into Scottish policing), and to submit these proposals to the independent commission for its consideration.
- The Scottish Government to halt the absorption of the British Transport Police into Police Scotland