HC Deb 17 June 2003 vol 407 cc204-5
8. Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

What plans he has to increase the resourcing to the British Transport police to cope with increased demands for policing of football. [119409]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty)

The resources available to the British Transport police are a matter for the BTP committee, which oversees the force and sets its budget. The rail industry, including London Underground, Network Rail and the train operating companies, are responsible for providing the necessary funding, not central Government.

Kate Hoey

I thank my hon. Friend. However, is he aware of the enormous pull on transport police time during a normal weekend of football matches? Does he share my view that football is the only sport that requires such a massive amount of policing, both by the BTP and other police? Does he not think that it is time that football should have to ring-fence a tiny percentage of the huge amount of money that it gets from Sky and other television companies and give it to the BTP and other police for policing a sport that can no longer be watched peacefully?

Mr. McNulty

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that on some Saturdays football increases the lot and load of the British Transport police. For example, since the closure of Wembley stadium, there have been 36 matches for which central funding has been available for Home Office forces, but not the BTP. A survey on 4 January 2003 estimated that the additional cost for the BTP of policing matches on that day was £142,000. The Government maintain that it is the responsibility of the industry to meet those costs, and how it does so is up to it. However, I share my hon. Friend's sentiments.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

Is it not the case that almost more than for any territorial force, the key objectives for the British Transport police must be deterrence and reassurance, and that that is achieved by visibility of patrols on trains and the tube? Should not that be a prime objective of the British Transport police authority, and should not the resources be available to make sure that there are enough officers to be visible on our trains and tube?

Mr. McNulty

Whatever other changes have been made over the past couple of weeks, for the British Transport police the world is as it was on 1 April 2003, when the hon. Gentleman raised the matter of the BTP with the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar) when he was in the Department for Transport. My right hon. Friend said then: The British Transport police play a full part in the British police service within their railways jurisdictions, including the prevention and detection of terrorism."—[Official Report, 1 April 2003; Vol. 402, c. 789.] That remains the case and is an important part of their role.