Police launch 'suicide patrols' at railway line on the outskirts of Exeter
A level-crossing on the outskirts of Exeter has been announced as a suicide hotspot today.
Police are mounting ‘suicide patrols’ in Stoke Canon as part of a bid to stop people killing themselves on the nation’s railway lines.
The operation was launched today as senior officers revealed there is an annual increase in suicide attempts in the autumn months.
Two of the 64 suicide hotspots are in Devon, Stoke Canon and Ivybridge, and police are now sending out patrols, including officers in plain clothes to them.
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The unprecedented operation aims to save lives and reduce delays and disruption endured by millions of passengers.
Backed by CCTV operators, they will work with volunteers and railway officials to try and intercept vulnerable people at the trackside.
Det Chief Supt Miles Flood, of British Transport Police (BTP), said: ‘Suicides and attempted suicides are individual tragedies.
‘But these and trespass events also expose others to increased risk through trains being stuck in remote locations for long periods, the temptation for passengers to evacuate trains onto live lines and overcrowding at stations.
‘Working with Network Rail, Samaritans and others, I believe we can make a real difference to the thousands of passengers whose journeys are delayed by trespassers on the line and to vulnerable people in need of help.’
It takes the authorities an average of 76 minutes to clear a railway line after a death, but some cases have left travellers stranded for several hours.
Around 240 people commit suicide on the nation’s railway lines every year, almost one in every 20 who kill themselves.
At one stage Network Rail estimated suicides were costing it £15m a year in compensation to train companies for delays.
Det Chief Supt Miles Flood said the authorities are also improving perimeter fencing to make it more difficult for people to access railway lines.
‘Analysis tells us that at this time of year we will see an increase in time lost through disruption to the network,’ he added.
‘Our aim is to focus on specific locations at vulnerable times with high profile patrols to deter these events.’
Rachel Kirby-Rider, of Samaritans, said the charity has been working with Network Rail to train staff in recognising potentially suicidal people.
She said: ‘We are doing everything we can to let people know that anyone can call Samaritans at any time.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch.