The scheme was developed by the British Transport Police (BTP) and Department for Transport (DfT) to meet the increase in the number of people at risk using the rail network. Recipients of the accreditation have demonstrated a commitment to protecting vulnerable children and adults as a matter of policy.
AWC's collaboration with industry partners such as the Railway Children Charity, Samaritans and BTP, was recognised as a key part of the operator's ability to help staff identify people who require safeguarding interventions. The project was underpinned by a programme that saw 1,900 employees trained in safeguarding over the last year – with more training to come over the next three years. At the same time, the company – which operates services to major destinations including Glasgow, Manchester and London – has created a group to bring together representatives from all over the business to identify safeguarding issues and create solutions.
In addition to staff training, AWC plans to launch an app next month that will help staff record incidents via a dedicated digital form. In doing so it hopes to collect data that gives a clear picture of the different types of vulnerability on its network, aid the successful deployment of partner organisations, and develop the ability of staff to deal with incidents.
In the last 18 months the company has logged nearly 1,200 safeguarding incidents that the BTP responded to. This has resulted in 58 interventions of a sufficiently serious nature to be classified as lifesaving, with one incident involving a suicidal male proving particularly noteworthy. In this case staff engaged with him and encouraged him to go to the BTP Office, where they gave a detailed account of events before handing him over.
Barry Milsom, Executive Director for Operations and Safety said: “We're proud to have achieved SRS accreditation as it highlights our efforts to keep those on our network safe. We hope this provides reassurance to our customers and communities that we're here to look out for everyone and if those who are at risk find themselves on our stations or trains, we'll be able to get them the help and support they need.
“Through our work with industry partners and charities we've seen the positive difference we can all make, and we want to build on this. Everyone has a part to play in protecting vulnerable people on the railway, which is why we're committed to embedding safeguarding into all areas of our business.”
Andrew McCullough, Head of Designing Out Crime Unit at British Transport Police, said: “Getting such a high score for the Safeguarding on Rail Scheme is a real testament to the work all staff have put into making sure vulnerable people are safeguarded. I am made aware daily of the incredible interventions Avanti West Coast staff working in frontline roles do to protect the most vulnerable. Avanti West Coast have kept a real sharp focus on safeguarding, have ensured there is extra resources, training, and that safeguarding is everyone's responsibility.”