The Authority, which oversees the work of the British Transport Police (BTP), sets the force’s local and national targets each year. This year the emphasis for the plans has shifted from area based, to line of route, a move which is expected to deliver more efficient and effective policing.

BTPA and BTP spent much of last year carrying out in-depth consultations with those who own, operate, work or travel on the railways to understand what policing priorities mattered to them most. Adopting a ‘bottom up’ approach, it worked with those on the ground to ensure decisions taken at the top reflect policing priorities on specific routes and respond to the needs of the industry more widely.

Millie Banerjee, chair of the British Transport Police Authority said: ‘We have set ourselves ambitious targets to meet by 2019 so it is important to build on the momentum of the successful work carried out over the last two years.

‘In delivering this year’s plans we took a three pronged attack. We spent time talking to the rail industry about what it wanted. We worked closely with those at the front end of rail service delivery to get the bottom of what they needed and then we responded, looking at what we could do to help achieve the priorities, even restructuring the force to support delivery.’

The force restructure, which completed on 1st April, involved replacing the previous model of seven force areas with three divisions which cover all of Britain, each with an assistant chief constable with an operational overview.

The restructure is expected to enhance relations with stakeholders, who now have a clear direct line of contact, deliver better value for money, improve performance and visibility and facilitate better integration with the rail industry. Each division is made up of sub- divisions (eight in total nationally) with corresponding local policing plans which will reflect policing needs on the ground.

The 2014–15 National targets for the BTP are:

  • reduce crime by 4 per cent on last year’s figures
  • reduce police related delay by 6 per cent
  • non-suspicious fatalities to be cleared in 90 minutes
  • average partial re-opening time to be no more than 45 minutes on four track lines
  • spend at least 60 per cent of budget on frontline resources
  • less than 7.3 days a year per employee off sick
  • achieve passenger confidence rating of at least 77.5 per cent

BTPA, which celebrates its ten year anniversary in July, commended the force on successfully reducing crime on the railways year-on-year and on passenger confidence continuing to rise since the authority was set up in 2004.

BTP carried out a number of successful operations last year (2013-14) including those that supported targets around reducing disruption on the railway lines, a key measure of the force’s performance.

Operation Avert was set up in response to a spike in the number of fatalities over a four month period. The force stepped up patrols at 75 locations across the country and increased its work with local services to provide support for vulnerable people, to minimise trespass incidents and suicide attempts on the railway. The operation was highly successful, partly owing to the increased engagement activity with local services and train operators to support vulnerable people within hotspot areas – resulting in a reverse in the trend.

Acting chief constable Paul Crowther, who will become chief later in the year said: ‘As a police force we are always looking at how we might better meet the needs of the industry and the travelling public. Last year, we piloted two approaches to fatalities and disruption to see how we might create a more effective response. By working with stakeholders and targeting intervention at vulnerable people, with support from the appropriate health authorities, Operation Avert was very successful at reducing the number of fatalities. This new approach will continue in 2014/15.

‘In addition, we have looked at how we might reduce the impact fatalities have on delays on the network, while ensuring we can carry out our investigations sensitively. The partial re-openings of track, where possible, has successfully reduced delay minutes to the industry and the impact on passengers. This approach has enabled BTP to continue to carry out its work with a reduced impact on services. The partial re-opening of lines, at key sections of the network, is now a target for 2014/15.

‘Throughout 2014/15, we will continue to look at ways in which we can evolve our approach to deliver the responsive, effective policing service passengers and the industry deserve.’

Savings go to frontline resources

This year a six per cent reduction is expected in police-related disruption minutes. The Force has already started work on areas it believes will help it reach the target including identifying vandalism, trespass and crime hotspots.

Banerjee explained: ‘We will be monitoring how the plans are received and the impact they have over the course of the year. To support the plans we have also ensured that any savings the force made last year are ploughed back into frontline resources including investment in 200 more officers and new technology to ensure efficient and effective policing.’

She continued: ‘We also intend to do much more work around passengers, determining what factors build passenger confidence in the force and promote confidence in the use of rail transport systems.’