Every week we take a look back through our history
archives at stories and events in our rich history
of policing the railways.
1996 – Officers’ work praised after Docklands
Officers in east London were called into action on the night of
9 February 1996 when
a bomb was detonated on the Isle of Dogs near the Canary
Wharf financial district. The area was quickly evacuated an hour
before detonation following a coded warning by the IRA, though two
people died and 39 injured in the resulting blast.
Four BTP officers were among the first of the emergency services
on scene, with the explosives-laden lorry located directly
underneath Docklands Light Railway (DLR) lines leading to South
The four officers were:
- PC Mike Evans, who was blown of his feet by the force of the
- PC Steve Tucker, who made a lucky escape after he discovered he
was stood next to the lorry carrying the explosives minutes before
- PC Andrew Ralph, who provided a running commentary of
information back to the Force control room via radio as
the bomb exploded.
- PC Richard Walker, who worked to set up inner cordons around
the South Quay station area.
"We knew there were a lot of people trapped" said PC Mike Evans.
"We were evacuating people to a nearby hotel and then remained on
duty until 3am, but we were glad to see it through to the end,
having been involved from the start."
Though the attack saw dozens of casualties, Malcolm
Hutchinson, DLR’s Managing Director, praised the “excellent
communication between DLR and BTP throughout” and paid tribute to
the “courage and professionalism of the officers involved”. Sir
Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time, wrote to
BTP Chief Constable of the day Desmond O’Brien to commend the
actions of the four officers, noting that “their help in such
difficult circumstances was deeply appreciated”.
2003 – Parliament paved the way for new-look BTP
The Railways and Transport Safety Act passed through the House
of Commons in late January 2003. The Act clarified our powers and
authority on railway policing, paved the way for Police Community
Support Officers (PCSOs) to join us, and proposed the establishment
of the British
Transport Police Authority (BTPA). In the debate all
parties recognised the unique task British Transport Police faces.
The then-Home Secretary Alistair Darling also called for an
independent board to oversee the British Transport Police,
replacing the Strategic Rail Authority.
He told Parliament: "[This Act] puts the British Transport
Police's jurisdiction over the railways in England, Scotland and
Wales on a clear and wholly statutory basis for the first time in
its history. That is a welcome step forward."
John Redwood MP, Former Shadow Secretary of State for the
Environment, Transport and the Regions, also welcomed the proposed
changes: "We have many reasons to be grateful to that force for the
work that it does on behalf of so many people," he said. "It is
right that they should have the status that will be accorded them
in their incorporation under the Bill. They will be recognised for
doing an extremely important public safety job."
The Act was granted Royal Assent and made law in
July later that year, and the British Transport
Police Authority was set up in 2004. Ever since then it's been
tasked with ensuring an effective and efficient police force for
In another change introduced by the new Act, we started
recruiting PCSOs on 13 December 2004, who to this day form a vital
part of our frontline force.
January 2013 archive collections
- Chancery Lane derailment
- Near-fatal attack at Finsbury Park
- 150 years of the London Underground
Timeline of our history
British Transport Police History