The Tamar Bridge is a suspension bridge in the south-west of England, connecting the City of Plymouth to the east and the Cornish town of Saltash to the west.
The Bridge is in public ownership and under the governance of the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee. Formed in 1955, the Joint Committee consists of elected members of Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Councils. Alongside the Tamar Bridge, the Joint Committee is also responsible for the Torpoint Ferry which is one of the busiest estuarial crossings in Europe linking the City of Plymouth with Torpoint and the Rame Peninsular.
Operating 365 day, 24 hour services, both crossings are vitally important to the south-west region’s socio-economic prosperity with over 18 million crossings per annum. Both facilities are popular with tourists and commuters alike with the Bridge proving a 24 hour dedicated footpath and cycleway.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
The Bridge is monitored (365 days, 24 hours) by a dedicated Bridge Control Room with excellent lines of sight and sophisticated CCTV (including smart analytics). In addition to passive safety measures (anti-climb parapets, lighting and signing (including for Samaritans)), staff across all levels have been trained in engaging with vulnerable people.
Reaching out to provide a non-judgmental and positive intervention has proven successful in providing a mental health first aid response until such time as the emergency services are in attendance. Staff involved participate in post incident debriefs and are monitored for their own well-being and if appropriate, signposted for additional support.
What are your current priorities?
Early intervention of any concern for welfare that presents at either crossing and to notify the emergency services.
To ensure the appropriate training and support is delivered to front line staff, including contractors, working on the bridge and ferry. Continue to foster positive working relationships with attending emergency services and other important stakeholders including Public Health, Samaritans and NHS Authorities.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Similar to other structures and transport hubs, we have seen an increase in vulnerable persons presenting, in particular young persons and a significant number of drug/alcohol users.