Metal theft is a major problem on today’s railways. Stuart Marsh has looked at the subject as a whole elsewhere in this issue, but to an extent nothing deters criminals more, nor is more likely to catch them in the act, than boots on the ground.
Bridgeway Consulting Ltd (Bridgeway) are not new to the security issues affecting the rail infrastructure, having first introduced a dedicated security team, all with COSS permits, on the West Coast Mainline upgrade projects in Rugby and Nuneaton back in 2007. Extensive cable theft, and the lack of security companies with railway experience, gave rise to Mike Bass, Security Operations Manager for Bridgeway, embarking on an ambitious project of staff training and innovating new security techniques to combat criminality on the railways.
This preventative approach has seen all Bridgeway security personnel involved attain Security Industry Authority (SIA) badges. Senior staff gained additional skills, including firearms awareness in the USA, and even joined forces with the British Transport Police (BTP) to become part of the BTP Special Constables team.
The SIA have recognised the standards achieved by Bridgeway as a security provider by awarding the company SIA Approved Contractor status for two years in succession, putting Bridgeway in the top 25% of UK companies involved in the scheme.
Recent completed success stories include deployments on the West Coast Mainline as part of the Bletchley signalling upgrade project and in the East Midlands covering the Knighton Junction area of Leicester. In addition to this was the successful delivery of phase one of the Water Orton resignalling project, which was completed in November 2011. This covered Tamworth, Nuneaton, Coleshill and Water Orton to the east of Birmingham.
Both the Bletchley signalling project and the works at Knighton Junction recorded zero number of incidents while Bridgeway Security were patrolling the site. In addition to this Water Orton’s level of criminal activities reduced significantly allowing site work to be completed in a timely manner.
It was found that obtaining information on local areas near project sites did not provide any tangible benefits when undertaking preventative actions. To achieve a zero number of criminal activities, the Bridgeway security team adopted a number of measures which included military-style special operations techniques such as observation, guarding and intelligence gathering. The use of technology such as night vision, electronic devices and smart phone alerting was also beneficial.
Bridgeway ensured that communication was effective and precise. This ensured that security personnel were at the right place at the right time and understood trends of abnormal movements on the infrastructure, which were reported to the BTP.
Patrolling both on and off track, as well as using electronic alert devices, has been effective. But what has really made a difference is that Bridgeway Security has coordinated with Network Rail Management, BTP and local police, as well as all stakeholders involved in delivering and maintaining infrastructure services. This approach also assisted in planning with BTP and Network Rail to prevent intrusion on project sites.
Working together from the planning stages to project completion, Bridgeway has designed better methods of protection for permanent long term solutions against attack. It should also be noted the valuable contribution that local residents have played in preventing rail crime as relationships were built up. Likewise, the Bridgeway team has helped raise the awareness of Network Rail’s involvement in the community by reducing local crime levels and making residents feel more secure in the area.
Additional benefits of the teams patrolling has been raised levels of health and safety reporting back to the route maintenance teams and deterring acts of violence towards track workers.
By setting the goal of preventing theft on the railway, more has been achieved than simply capturing those who are responsible for metal theft and its expensive loss to both Network Rail and, ultimately, the tax payer.