Public invited to Walk and Talk with British Transport Police to increase reassurance and safety
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A pilot scheme set up to reassure the public has launched in Manchester with rail passengers invited to tour Piccadilly station on a ‘Walk and Talk’ with officers.
Launched as part of the Neighbourhood Policing initiative, the scheme currently runs at 10 busy hub stations across the country.
Officers from neighbourhood policing teams conduct the guided tours, allowing the person to direct the session to suit their needs.
Neighbourhood policing teams are at the heart of policing on the railway – they are the frontline officers you’ll see day to day. Your station is their community which makes them perfectly placed to accompany the public, listen to their concerns and offer reassurance.
PC Andy Margerison said: “We meet with the person outside the station and discuss what they hope to gain from the tour. They explain why they’ve signed up and we take it from there. We can do a walk around every area of the station with them if that’s why they need and key to that is explaining that they’re never far from help or assistance – whether it be BTP, station staff, cleaners – we’re all part of the railway family.
PC Abby Chesters added: “It’s an opportunity for us to engage with the public one to one and make a big difference. It gives us the chance to reassure them that they’re never far from help or assistance even in a busy station like Piccadilly. It also allows the person to express to us any areas they don’t feel safe and why.”
The invitation also extends to victims of crime, not just on the railway, who may wish to gain confidence to resume travelling, talk over what happened to them and how they feel about visiting the station.
One woman who contacted the team to arrange a Walk and Talk with officers was a victim of domestic abuse who had lost all confidence and hadn’t ventured out of her locality for a long time.
PC Margerison said: “This was a really daunting prospect for this woman, but she was brave enough to take that first crucial step and I’m so glad we were able to help her do that.
“She was met at the station by myself and PC Chesters and we talked about her experience and why she felt it was time to take that first step.”
In feedback provided to the officers she explained: “It was about getting back out there and not hiding. I hid away from the world, it is still hard to do but your officers were so kind I felt safe and that is something I have not felt in a long time. The two officers I spoke to made me feel like I was being listened to.
“When the Walk and Talk came up I just thought maybe this would help me as I hadn't been back into town since 2014. I would make every excuse under the sun not to go to town - everything frightened me; the noise, the crowds.
“I honestly feel I gained a lot from the walk. I do have a long way to go but I am ok with that now. I think I thought you would leave me there but one officer stood with me before the walk and talk and he did not leave my side. I was so scared, honestly it’s hard to explain i guess, then the other officer took over on the walk and talk, they were just awesome.”
PC Chesters said: “It can be a chance for the victim of crime to regain some control over what happened and even give them some closure – if they wish we can go with them to where the incident happened and talk it through with them, if they don’t want to do that – it’s fine. The Walk and Talk is about what they want from the session.