British Transport Police

British Transport Police (BTP) have been operating a Suicide Prevention Policy since 2010, involving Suicide Prevention Plans (SPP) and referrals for suicidal people presenting on the railway.

In early 2013, BTP, NHS London, Network Rail and London Underground collaborated to create a joint health and policing team in order to overcome organisational and information sharing barriers encountered in this area of work. This team now covers London and the South East (B Division).

When the Department of Health announced their funding programme for pilot Street Triage schemes, BTP made a successful application to create a joint health and policing team in Birmingham, which now covers the rest of England and Wales (C Division).

Our activity falls under a number of key headings.

– Data and Analysis – Daily data capture, research and analysis. Reviewing demographics and risk (people and places) and producing relevant profiles which are shared with external partners. Participating in Academic research projects and learning from the results.

– Up Stream prevention – sharing data with health and social care regarding individuals at risk. Working at a national level to produce new and improved care pathways for those vulnerable to mental health crisis and suicide risk. The work of our SPMH foot patrol (Police Officer and NHS Nurse).

– Restricting Access to means – Post event site visits and reporting on situational opportunities to design out suicide risk.

– Safeguarding and Crisis Care – Intervention, Case management (through our joint health and policing teams using our Suicide Prevention Plan approach) and Safeguarding of people in crisis/suicidal circumstances.

– Managing Consequences – Supporting the bereaved (our new Charter for the Bereaved) and conducting effective investigations.

– Tackling suicide contagion – Deployments to counter emerging suicide clusters, contagion, vulnerable groups and hot spots.

– Enabling and education – New training products, central policy and national guidance.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

Case Management

BTP employs two Divisional Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Teams in England and Wales which have NHS Psychiatric nurses embedded within them providing professional advice and support. Each year these teams will case manage some 2000 people who have presented on the railway in suicidal circumstances. A Suicide Prevention Plan is constructed for each individual and relevant referrals and exchanges of risk-based information made with partner agencies. This process has proved very successful with a very low return fatality rate of only 0.6%. The NHS resources in these teams are funded by Network Rail, Transport for London and NHS England.

BTP has a team in Scotland called the Concern Hub who deal with all suicidal presentations and follow the same Suicide Prevention Plan process, albeit they do not have imbedded NHS staff working with them.

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What are your current priorities?

Supporting the Bereaved 

We are very aware that people bereaved by the sudden death of a friend or family member are 65% more likely to attempt suicide if the deceased died by suicide than if they died by natural causes. This brings the absolute risk up to 1 in 10 and was revealed following new UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council.

Consequently, ensuring our officers are aware of this increased risk and that relevant referrals are made to safeguarding authorities or into local Public Health led initiatives, is an essential part of our approach. We also place some bereaved people on Suicide Prevention Plans where the risk is perceived to be acute.

We have also recently published our Charter to the Bereaved, aimed at ensuring consistent levels of support and investigation are delivered by BTP.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

BTP is facing rising demand due to substantial increases in people attending the railway in crisis.

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