‘I want to launch this column with an invitation. Understanding policing from the perspective of the rail industry is a key driver for determining the priorities for policing Britain’s railways each year and we cannot perform effectively without a range of input from industry experts telling us of what you need.
With that in mind I’d like you to join me in September for our annual workshop held for rail industry professionals where you will once again have the opportunity to influence the work of the Force and its future operations.
To ensure you get the most out of this event you are also invited to shape the agenda. I want your suggestions about what you expect to take away from the workshop, what you want to hear and what you are keen to discuss.
I believe if we are all prepared to put something in then we each stand to get a lot more out. More on how you can get involved later, but for now, I’d like to continue along this important theme of collaborative working.
BTPA celebrates its tenth year of operation on 1 July.
Our success is measured by the success of the Force. This is dependent upon its ability to develop ways to meet the operational requirement and the Authority’s ability to resource these to the objectives agreed with the industry.
It is the primary function of the Authority to ensure that it keeps the required operational outcomes in balance with the Force’s ability to achieve them and the funding necessary to do so.
The Authority has to be both constructive and robust in testing the Forces’ financial requirement as well as demanding in setting realistic objectives which will enable the industry to meet passenger and freight demand.
Since the introduction of the Authority, crime on the railways has been down year-on-year.
Last year we launched the strategy for the Force which set its course until 2019. BTP is delivering these objectives in part by meeting targets laid out in the annual policing plans.
Disruption a key area of discussion
Following the recent publication of the 2014-15 National Policing Plans the performance of the Force last year was reviewed by the Authority in May and disruption, a major concern for the industry, was a key area of discussion.
BTP, despite over-performing the year before, missed its 2013 -14 disruption targets. Interestingly however, the context around why it fell short of its expected target actually relates to an area where BTP is performing well.
Suicides and attempted suicides on the railways have increased, reflecting figures that suggest suicide is high nationally.
I have always had an interest in mental health issues. As chair of the BTPA it was clear that the Force was having to deal with individuals who had mental health problems, sadly many of whom were suicidal.
Part of the challenge for individual officers was how to recognise mental health problems and then, how to help the individual. As the High Sheriff of Greater London in 2012 -13 I decided to use my knowledge and contacts to help the Force mobilise support from health professionals, government, and other experts to construct a programme now being led by Mark Smith, BTP’s head of Suicide Prevention and Mental Health. Prevention of suicides is central to the caring agenda of the Force and of course has a hugely beneficial effect in reducing delays thereby supporting passengers and the train companies.
For the rail industry, delay minutes cost a substantial amount of money, and a recent report by Network Rail, based on figures calculated by the RSSB, has identified that suicide costs the industry £157,000 per event – last year there were nearly 300 suicides on the railways. BTP however, prevented nearly twice as many attempted suicides which, had these interventions not taken place, would have resulted in an additional 773,000 minutes delay across the network at a cost of £91 million.
Understanding policing need on the railways and responding jointly with operations such as ‘Avert’ – launched in partnership with the Samaritans, Network Rail and BTP in 2013 to prevent suicides – is an excellent example of how industry input and collaborative work can be successfully translated to operational activities on the ground.
This work has culminated with an agreement signed earlier in the year between police, the NHS and other service providers which seeks to improve mental health crisis care and drive up standards. I will be paying close attention to the progress of this work, best practice and to any issues the Force may encounter which might require support from the Authority at a national level.
Reducing disruption is a national target for the Force as it continues to work towards achieving a 20 per cent reduction in police related distribution by 2019.
Invitation to participate
Treading the line between setting achievable targets that deliver for the rail industry and passengers, while still allowing the Force to effectively do its job, all within the backdrop of a commercial environment is a unique challenge which is more effectively managed through close working relationships.
This brings me back to what I alluded to earlier about your involvement in the forthcoming workshops. My intention is that they will help build on some excellent work we have already started and also shine a light on where you feel more needs to be done.
We are also expecting to have the results of a Triennial review carried out by DfT which studied the work of the Authority and we hope to discuss those findings at the event, as well as reporting back on the restructuring of the Force.
The workshop is also an opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the enormous job of policing Britain’s railways in the past ten years and the dedicated work of the Force.
I look forward to seeing many of you there and although we would welcome you in September I want to make clear that this is an opened-ended invitation. I am very interested in hearing your views at anytime, including what you would like to see at the workshop. Email me at [email protected] with your comments or suggestions.