Police target autumn rail disruption

19 September 2013  •  Author: Network Rail

A police operation to minimise disruption is now running on the rail network through to the end of October. Targeting the two biggest causes of rail disruption – trespass and suicide attempts – Operation Avert comes as Network Rail launches its trespass awareness campaign, Track Tests.

“Analysis tells us that at this time of year we will see an increase in time lost through disruption to the network,” says Detective Chief Superintendent Miles Flood who is leading Operation Avert.

“Our aim is to focus on specific locations at vulnerable times with high profile patrols to deter these events, and we will also be undertaking other activity, such as sending our Crime Reduction Officers in to design solutions that will make future trespass and suicide attempts less likely.”

64 locations are being targeted across England, Scotland and Wales, plus a further 11 on the London Underground network. Local plans have been drawn up for each using a variety of tactics including:

  • increased patrols by neighbourhood policing and response teams, multi-agency patrols with police and rail staff, and increased use of Special Constables
  • plain clothes enforcement patrols
  • Crime Reduction Officer surveys to identify disruption mitigation measures
  • increased engagement activity with local services and train operators to provide support for vulnerable people within hotspot areas
  • increased implementation of problem solving plans to target localised problems
  • better focused local intelligence with patrol teams to aware of the latest vulnerable PIER (Prevention, Intelligence, Enforcement and Reassurance) plans
  • more local community engagement
  • real time monitoring of CCTV at hotspots

In October 2012, 1,103 trespass incidents were reported resulting in 42,067 delay minutes – equating to over 29 days. In the same month, 61 people were struck by trains resulting in 75,201 delay minutes – equating to over 52 days. As a comparison, the figures for January 2013 were 862 trespass incidents (34,209 delay minutes) and 51 people struck by trains (30.031 delay minutes).

“Suicides and attempted suicides are individual tragedies,” says DCS Flood. “But these and trespass events also expose others to increased risk through trains being stuck in remote locations for long periods, the temptation for passengers to self-evacuate from trains onto live lines and overcrowding at stations.

“Working with Network Rail, Samaritans and other partners, I believe we can make a real difference – to the thousands of passengers whose journeys are delayed by trespassers on the line and to vulnerable people in need of help.”

Neil Henry, Network Rail’s head of operations and performance, said: “With an increasingly busy railway and up to 25,000 volts powering trains, anyone taking a short cut is taking a terrible risk and can cause huge delays and cost as we slow or halt trains to check the line.

“The focused police resource with Operation Avert is welcome to dissuade or divert anyone who might choose to take a short cut along the tracks or even those who might be looking to take their own life. Through this, combined with our new campaign Track Tests and our partnership with the Samaritans, we hope to reduce the number of tragic incidents and maintain a safe railway for everyone.”

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Executive Director of Fundraising and Communications, at Samaritans said: “The Partnership with Network Rail is an outstanding example of co-operation between industry and the charity sector. So far, nearly 5,000 rail industry staff have been trained by Samaritans in how to identify and approach potentially suicidal people on the rail network, many of whom have helped people exhibiting suicidal behaviour. We’ve also developed a response service to ensure support is available at stations in the aftermath of an incident.

“The wider campaign includes the targeting of the groups at highest risk, identified through our We’re in Your Corner research, and working with journalists to reduce “copycat” suicides through more responsible reporting. We are doing everything we can to let people know that anyone can call Samaritans at any time.”

Contact details for Samaritans

call 08457 90 90 90, email [email protected], or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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