By Cara Sulieman
THE CHIEF Constable of the British Transport Police said that public transport in Scotland should always be policed by his force – even if the debate on a single Scottish constabulary results in change.
He spoke of being able to “police across boundaries” when he met Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in Edinburgh today (Tues) to talk about the ongoing partnership between the BTP and the Scottish Government.
Andy Trotter’s comments come just a week after Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson backed calls for radical reform of forces across the country.
And in Scotland there has been a long-running debate on the future of the country’s policing, with ex-Chief Inspector of Constabulary Paddy Tomkins calling for one massive force to be created.
Mr Trotter took over as the Chief Constable in September this year after five years as Deputy of the organisation.
And he hopes to continue what he calls a “strong partnership” between the BTP and local forces in Scotland – saying a combination of local knowledge and sizable resources were needed to effectively tackle crime.
Mr Trotter emphasised the BTP’s ability to chase criminals around the country without having to go through reams of paperwork.
He said: “The work that we do knows no boundaries, we chase criminals across boundaries. As well as working with local police forces in the UK, we work with authorities in France and Belgium as part of policing Eurostar.
“Criminals don’t respect boundaries, and victims of crime don’t understand these boundaries either. You can get a lot of debate between police forces about whose ground a crime happened on.
“The victims don’t want to know about this debate, they don’t care. People do things at the start of their journey, they do them at the end, and they do things in between. It is important that we are able to get them wherever their crime took place and wherever they go.”
He went on to say that it isn’t just this ability to “cross boundaries” that makes up effective policing, but local knowledge plays a large part as well.
And he thinks that Scotland has a good balance of local knowledge and co-operation between forces.
Mr. Trotter added: “I have found that in Scotland there is a much more corporate approach to policing. The very small forces get help when they need it from the big forces.
“What the community wants is a local force they can talk to, and they get that too.”
And that “local knowledge” is so important to Mr Trotter that he has given his area commander Chief Superintendent Martyn Ripley free reign to run the force in Scotland.
He said: “I give my area commander in Scotland a lot of freedom. He has targets to meet but apart from that he runs the force up here as he sees fit.
“These are local solutions to local problems. This is a very Scottish approach.”
The pair discussed the newly introduced fixed penalty notices to tackle anti-social behaviour on the rail network.
Since they were introduced in April, 162 fixed penalties have been handed out for offences such as breach of the peace and drinking in public.
And the justice secretary said that he had recently experienced how safe the railway was after dropping off a friend at Waverley train station on Saturday night.
He said: “I was down in this (Waverley) station on Saturday night where I was showing a friend back to a town along the road from here where we both come from and it was a remarkably good atmosphere.
“The rugby fans were going home and station was safe, secure and well policed.”