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 sets out a number of responsibilities for the Authority.

Setting BTP’s strategy

The Authority is responsible for setting objectives for 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:

  • The annual Policing Plan contains the Authority’s priorities for the year, the financial resources it expects to be available to deliver the plan and how it proposes to allocate those resources
  • The Strategic Plan sets out the Authority’s medium and long-term strategies for policing the railways
  • 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

As well as billing the rail industry for the costs of running BTP, the BTPA determines the budget of the police force and allocates resources to individual departments from it. The Authority maintains the accounts of British Transport Police and makes arrangements to have the accounts for each financial year audited.

Police Service Agreements

The Authority enters into agreements with train and freight operating companies in order to provide 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 the BTPA.


The Authority is responsible for recruitment of senior officers and staff  in BTP and for members of the BTPA staff .

Public consultation

The Authority 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.  It is required to consult, amongst others, rail passengers, workers and the industry.

Regulation of 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.

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