TfL bosses have demanded the return of 88 British Transport Police officers to the Tube network, according to force insiders.
It’s claimed the officers had been moved from the Tube to non-Transport for London rail services to plug gaps elsewhere in the force’s ‘B’ Division which covers London and the South East.
Unlike other forces operating in England and Wales, the majority of BTP funding comes from private train operators rather than Home Office or government grant.
The largest amount of public funding comes from Transport for London which pays around £74m for the provision of 977 officers to patrol the Tube, DLR, tram, bus and London Overground networks.
Despite this funding, neither TfL nor Mayor Sadiq Khan have any formal role in overseeing the force which answers to a standalone authority with members appointed by train operators and the Department for Transport.
Force insiders claim BTP is significantly below its overall target headcount, leaving it struggling to fulfil contracts with train operators. Such claims are difficult to confirm or rebut as the force refuses to publish staffing levels, claiming this information would pose a risk to public safety.
However in June the force did release figures showing that 115 of the officer posts TfL pays it to provide were vacant at the start of this financial year, prompting calls for the Mayor to investigate the shortfall.
It’s now been claimed that up to 88 officers who’d been moved to non-TfL locations, including Brighton and Guildford, are being returned to the Tube network following demands by TfL and City Hall.
Asked to comment on the claims, Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement, told MayorWatch: “The safety and security of our customers is our top priority.
“We work closely with the BTP to ensure we have a robust policing plan in place which guarantees officers are effectively deployed to reflect the changing nature of crime.
“As part of this ongoing review, we are allocating approximately 80 BTP officers to provide visible local policing on the underground network. It is anticipated these teams will begin patrols next month.”