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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 103

Date:- 14 June 2003

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Political Comments 
By John Lyon-Taylor

I NOTE in the papers recently there have been many complaints and people are upset about the changes to Southport Hospital loosing it’s children’s A&E.

When the shields report was first published proposing these changes I and others saw the potential dangers they posed, particularly for a ‘children’s holiday town’ such as Southport.

I made several complaints to the Health Authority as did Matthew Banks, who also took complaints to Westminster. All to no avail, because at the time few others were bothered, and we were ‘voices in the wilderness’.

The earlier these complaints were registered the more possible it would have been to make a change. Now I fear it may be too late.

I hope the public pressure will be enough to make changes, because I said then, and I still think, that ultimately the changes will cause a death. I hope I am wrong, but I fear I may not be. I wonder who will take the responsibility then?

I also hear Councillor Byrom is complaining about the skateboarders outside the Town Hall. Well if he didn’t forsee that coming he is dafter than I thought he was. The councillors have been prevaricating for long enough about building a skateboard park so if they get their skates on, (ha, ha) and build it quickly the problem should disappear.

  ‘RAILWAY CRIME WEEK’

THE rail industry has declared 15 – 22 June to be ‘Railway Crime Week’ and it’s a case of other parts of the rail network signing up to an initiative started in the North West, simply because it has been so successful.

In October 2002 the north west region of Network Rail reached agreement with the British Transport Police to fund two extra police officers dedicated to the fight against route crime, rather than general policing duties - and the result is a 40% 

reduction in route crime in the areas they have targeted in the first six months. The two ‘boys in blue’ now deal solely with lineside offences such as people placing objects on the tracks, throwing stones at trains, trespassing and general vandalism. They don’t get diverted from this focus to deal with such things as the consequences of suicides, policing on football match days or thefts from station shops.

This is an entirely new way of dealing with route crime. In the past, officers have turned up to an incident, dealt with it and then moved on to the next job. Now though, the route crime officers work closely with Network Rail’s community relations team who can tell them where there is a particular problem that, for example, has been reported by a member of the public. It could be children building a den near the railway tracks; groups of youths always taking a short cut across the railway at particular locations and times of day; youngsters congregating on stations in the evening because they have nothing else to do – the examples are almost endless.

The route crime officers can target those locations and explain to the offenders what they are doing wrong and why it is dangerous, both to themselves and the railway industry. They are able to put more emphasis on the education of youngsters so they won’t offend again, rather than simply catching and prosecuting them.

Network Rail pays for the two officers, has provided them with a car and is in the process of equipping them with a highly visible communications and surveillance van, night vision goggles and digital cameras. After the successful trial in the North West, similar schemes are being introduced elsewhere on the network.

As part of the education process, Network Rail staff, British Transport Police officers and other staff will be offering help and advice to the public at a stand on Manchester Piccadilly station on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (17 – 19 June) of Railway Crime Week. Everyone is welcome to visit the stand and learn more about the work the rail industry is doing to reduce railway crime such as the use of helicopters, sponsoring Football in the Community initiatives, attending Crucial Crew events and appointing a Network Rail school liaison officer. A video and DVD of the two route crime officers in action has also been produced and will be used to show their work to magistrates, the Crown Prosecution Service, community groups and local authorities.

 
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