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Sheriffs on patrol

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Whether they’re opening a new building or marking a new milestone or landmark anniversary, MPs are often snapped celebrating special occasions with organisations associated to either their constituency or government department.

So, when Land Sheriffs welcomed not one but two politicians to its headquarters in Essex earlier this year, you know it was for something significant. 

At the beginning of 2019, the professional security firm recorded its 200th life-saving intervention since 2013 when it first started actively working to prevent suicide on Britain’s railways. As of June this year the figure currently sits at 222 and refers to incidents whereby a member of the public is handed over to the BTP, the ambulance service or another police force for a mental health assessment. 

Ministerial praise

Tyler LeMay, managing director of Land Sheriffs, welcomed mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price and local MP Robert Halfon to the company’s offices in April for the event.

“We tried to make it more of a recognition of staff because the event was tinged with a little bit of sadness because there were 200 people who were in very dark places,” Tyler said. “We never set our sights on targets. We don’t have a KPI for it. We trust our staff’s experience and training to intervene when they feel able to.”

On the day of her visit, Jackie Doyle-Price tweeted the following message: “Congratulations on all that you have done, please continue that good work. I am going to preach to the world about what you have done here because it is so impressive, thank you very much indeed.”

Tyler explained that when staff make these life-saving interventions, they’re not just saving one person’s life. 

He added: “You’ve saved their family, friends and partners from going through the pain and heartache of that person taking their own life.

“Plus, if a train driver’s involved, some train drivers never come back to work, even though there’s nothing they could do.”

A rise in crime

Working predominantly across the South East and Anglia region of the UK, including major London Hubs such as Victoria, Charing Cross and Liverpool St stations, Land Sheriffs isn’t just contracted for suicide prevention by Network Rail and train operators. A key aspect of its work relates to violence and antisocial behaviour on the network.

In the last three years, the number of overall recorded crimes in England, Scotland and Wales has increased from 49,000 in 2015/16 to 52,000 in 2016/17 and 61,000 in 2017/18, according to BTP – although these figures are lower than they were in 2005/06 (79,000).

Following this trend, Land Sheriffs has also seen a rise in violence and antisocial behaviour, which Tyler believes is partly down to a change in workers’ attitudes to reporting. 

“No one goes to work to be abused or called names or threatened with violence, but it seems as if there’s an acceptable culture in the rail industry that rail frontline staff can be abused, without repercussions” he added. 

“Lots of these frontline staff, gateline staff, staff in customer service, they’re not there to deal with conflict, they’re not trained to deal with conflict. 

“Our staff, certainly in our sector, are trained and – like a police officer almost – they’re willing to enter into conflict in order to deal with a situation.”

Giving back

As it has grown its presence in rail, Land Sheriffs has sought to give something back to the communities it serves. 

In the immediate area of Harlow, the firm raised enough money to allow all of the nurses from the neonatal unit at the nearby Princess Alexandra Hospital to undertake special training, to improve their knowledge and skillset around caring for babies and their families. 

In the rail industry, it is once more returning to sponsor the Charity Award at the RailStaff Awards.

“It’s an award that’s close to our hearts. We do a lot of charity work and I think it’s good to give back to your local community,” said Tyler. “Lots of the staff that are nominated don’t do it for the recognition either, they just do it for a passion or a drive, something that’s touched them or their family. They do it for the cause, which they should be recognised for.” 

To nominate one of your colleagues or to find out more information, head to www.railstaffawards.com