Published on: 21st February 2024

Specialist police officers, railway colleagues and mental health professionals have joined forces to improve support for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

The British transport joint response service launched in Greater Manchester yesterday. This is a 12-month pilot funded and run by Network Rail in partnership with our Trust, British Transport Police and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

A senior mental health practitioner and British transport officer will jointly attend mental health crisis incidents happening anywhere on the rail network.

The practitioner will support and assess the person, before signposting or referring them to the best service for their needs, for example their local 24/7 crisis helpline, care co-ordinator, or GP.

The aim is to ensure people experiencing a mental health crisis can access the right support, in the right place; with all community-based care options considered before A&E or a 136 admission (hospital-based place of safety).

This is vital for their recovery, ensuring they have a positive experience and maintaining their dignity and liberty. It’ll also help ensure best use of officers’ and NHS professionals’ time.

The service will run five days a week. It mainly covers Greater Manchester, but will extend to Chorley, Warrington, Buxton, and Macclesfield.

The service isn’t intended to be a shortcut to receiving mental health support, as people will always be referred or signposted to the right service for their needs. 

The quickest way for people to access mental health support in an emergency is to attend A&E or phone their borough’s crisis mental health helpline (freephone 24/7):

    • 0800 014 9995 (Bury, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport, and Tameside)
    • 0800 953 0285 (Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford, Wigan)

Danielle Stephenson is the services' senior mental health practitioner. She said, “It was great to head out on our first shift yesterday. This is more than a job for me. I feel privileged to be able to help people who are at their most vulnerable and set them on the right road to a happier and more hopeful future.”

Michelle Black, route crime and security manager for Network Rail, said: “We’re proud to be working with our partners to help keep people safe.

“The rail network connects communities, so we’re in a unique position to support vulnerable people in times of crisis. We’re confident this partnership will help fulfil our goal of ensuring everyone gets home safely, every day.”  

Chief inspector James Mitchell, from British Transport Police, said: “This is a perfect example of how partnership working can enhance and improve the way we respond to people in crisis. Working with partners allows us to pool our resources and deliver the best, most effective, and efficient care.”

Thomas Walker, operational manager at Greater Manchester Mental Health, added: “This type of support can be lifesaving, a pivotal moment in someone’s recovery journey; and we are very pleased to offer it to Greater Manchester’s communities.”  

The new service is building on the success of similar schemes that have already helped thousands of people. This includes the borough-based joint response services run by our Trust, Greater Manchester Mental Health, and Greater Manchester Police. And the railway-focused service run by Network Rail and British Transport Police in Liverpool.

British transport launch photo. FINAL.jpeg

Left side of car (left to right)
Rachael Osborne, associate director for Tameside and Glossop, Pennine Care; Richard Godwin, suicide prevention co-ordinator, Network Rail; PC Geoffrey Daly-Tse, British Transport Police; Lisa Warrender, service manager, Pennine Care; Inspector Paul Hevey, British Transport Police; Janet O’Toole, senior mental health clinician, Greater Manchester Mental Health; Inspector Peter Wilcock, British Transport Police; Danielle Stephenson, senior mental health practitioner, Pennine Care; Gary Jones, regional group crime and suicide prevention manager, Network Rail.

Right side of care (left to right):

PS Tommy Pearson, British Transport Police; Sophia Turner, regional development lead, Samaritans’ Network Rail partnership (north west and central); Thomas Walker, operational manager at Greater Manchester Mental Health; Kara Wood, head of performance and customer relationships, Network Rail; chief inspector James Mitchell, British Transport Police; Michelle Black, route crime and security manager, Network Rail; Amy Ventura, shift station supervisor, Network Rail; Sam Akintan, substantive mental health practitioner, Greater Manchester mental health; Karen Maneely, network director of operations for specialist services, Pennine Care.