Duties and responsibilities

Duties and responsibilities

The British Transport Police Authority (BTPA) is responsible for ensuring an efficient and effective police force for the railways. It was established by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, which lays out a number of responsibilities for the Authority.

Setting BTP’s strategy

BTPA is responsible for setting objectives for the British Transport Police (BTP) before the beginning of each financial year. The BTPA announces these objectives, as well as its strategic direction and performance review of the Force through a number of publications:

  • Its annual Policing Plan contains the Authority’s priorities for the year, the financial resources it expects to be available and how it proposes to allocate those resources.
  • The Strategic Plan sets out the Authority’s medium-term and long-term strategies for policing the railways during that period; the latest plan covers 2013-2019.
  • Finally, the Annual Reports are published after the end of each financial year and cover the policing of the railways in that year.

BTP’s funding and budget

BTPA determines the budget of the police force – formally called the British Transport Police Fund – and allocates resources to individual departments from it. The Authority maintains the accounts of the British Transport Police and makes arrangements to have the accounts for each financial year audited.

Police Service Agreements

BTPA enters into agreements with train, freight and other operating companies in order to providing a policing service to their railway or railway property. These agreements, referred to as Police Services Agreements (PSAs), also require the companies to make payments for the service. When, for instance, a new rail franchise is awarded by the Department for Transport, the winning company is usually required to enter into a new or existing PSA with BTPA.


The Authority is responsible for recruitment for senior vacancies in the police force and for members of staff to the BTPA Executive.

Although it does not appoint other officers and members of staff at the British Transport Police, BTPA is considered their employer.

Public consultation

BTPA is required to make, and review from time to time, arrangements to speak to members of the rail community for their views on the policing of the railways. Rail passengers, workers and the industry are among those we are required to consult.

Regulation of the British Transport Police

As with Home Office forces, for which regulations can be issued under sections 50-52 of the Police Act 1996, the Authority is able to reflect such changes for the British Transport Police as described by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. Any such regulations require the approval of the Chief Constable, staff associations and the Transport Secretary.