Detailed history

A detailed look back at the history of railway policing and how British Transport Police was formed. This information was first provided by the British Transport Police History Group.

British Transport Police officers

Policing into the millennium

The IRA targeted Britain's railways in the early 1990s with bombs exploding on railway stations, lineside and on trains. The problem was further compounded by numerous hoax calls. In 1991 the force dealt with 1,683 hoax calls and 1,391 suspect items. BTP continues to liaise with the security services to ensure that the railways are safe.
 
The opening of the Channel Tunnel saw a dedicated group of officers policing the international link to the continent. During the 1998 World Cup a British Transport Police station was opened at Lille railway station in France.
 
Train accidents at Southall, Paddington, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Selby in Yorkshire again thrust BTP’s work into the public arena. Officers worked long hours both on the sites of the accidents and in the aftermath with the long and complex investigations. The work of the force was acknowledged by, amongst others, Her Majesty the Queen and the Home Secretary.
 
To assist with the increasing pressure on the force, special constables were re-introduced to the force in 2004, and 2005’s intake of officers was the largest to date.

In 2005, BTP faced one of its biggest post-war challenges, when suicide bombers targeted London’s transport network on 7 July. 52 people died and 700 were injured when bombs were detonated on Underground trains near Edgware Road, Kings Cross and Aldgate and a bus near Tavistock Square.

Two weeks later, BTP officers and other emergency services responded as the Underground service was again targeted. Smoke at Oval Station, Warren Street and Shepherd’s Bush was reported as devices were only partially detonated.

A new home for force headquarters

As 2005 drew to a close, BTP moved their force headquarters from Tavistock Place to a new site in Camden. The new building boasted a third more square-footage and could house 350 officers and staff.

In early 2006, BTP officers were granted the power to issue Penalty Notices for Disorder, bringing BTP in line with all Home Office forces in England and Wales. The notices enable officers to deal with low-level anti-social and nuisance offending.

As summer approached, 28 of our officers travelled to Germany to support German police during the World Cup. The officers policed England fans to and from games as they made their way to grounds all over Germany.

In October, BTP appointed Ellie Bird as Superintendent Operations on London Underground Area. She is the first woman to have reached that substantive rank in 180 year history of railway policing.

February 2007 saw BTP add the Glasgow Subway to its jurisdiction, as officers embarked on an initial two-month trial with the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

As our Neighbourhood Policing plan got in to full swing, London Mayor Boris Johnson launched 30 teams charged with policing London Underground and its stations. Neighbourhood Policing teams are based around the country, looking after major stations and dealing with local community issues.

And 2009 saw a change at the top, as Andrew Trotter took over from outgoing Chief Constable Ian Johnston. The new chief constable took over the role determined to re-emphasise BTP’s role in protecting passengers, railway staff and the railway itself.

2014 saw a new Chief Constable come into post with Paul Crowther, OBE, rising from Deputy Chief Constable.

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