New police strategy helping to prevent railway suicides

Tuesday 29th September 2015

The Independent has reported that British Transport Police (BTP) has introduced a strategy called the Suicide Prevention Plan to combat rising suicide rates on British railways. It is estimated that last year over 300 people committed suicide on Britain’s railways.

The Suicide Prevention Plan involves training BTP officers to identify and approach passengers who they believe to be potentially suicidal and work in partnership with mental health nurses to assist passengers’ recovery in putting together a ‘Suicide Prevention Plan’, which is then recorded on BTP’s systems. The ‘Suicide Prevention Plan’ holds vital information about the passenger, including their key contacts and details of any risk factors.

In 2014, of 1,156 passengers the BTP brought onto the programme, only ten of those went on to take their lives – less than one percent.

As well as being reported on the BTP’s server, it is recorded on the Police National Computer, which hosts a database available to police forces nationwide. Therefore, if local police discover a person under the programme following an incident, they can get appropriate care to the individual sooner.

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Clare Moore from Gordons says: “Railway suicides can have a massive psychological impact for train drivers, witnesses and those who respond to the incident, not to mention the bereaved families. The immediate practical effect is widespread disruption to the rail network. The statistics produced so far show that the Suicide Prevention Plan is having an impact on preventing railway suicides and it appears that the multi-agency approach adopted is a key part of the programme’s success. In the transport sector, where there is a heightened risk of having employees being affected by suicide, it is good practice to have appropriate workplace support mechanisms in place which are flexible enough to deal with the varying effects that suicide has on employees.”

If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this article in further detail, please contact Clare Moore, on 01274 202 172 or at clare.moore@gordonsllp.com.