see Sara’s Story here)"
"After the incident, I was very stressed and unwell. I can’t believe that the Ombudsman think the solution is to force me back onto a Virgin train and to make me work as an outcome to my complaint. This shows how little respect disabled people are shown by authorities and quite honestly I am appalled".
On on 16 January 2017, more than two years before Kat’s appeal, the Deputy Chief Constable of BTP, Adrian Hanstock, and Chief Executive of the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA), Charlotte Vitty, were giving evidence to the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee, about undertakings given to the Committee by the Chief Constable two years earlier (2015), to strengthen and reassess BTP’s safeguarding capabilities of mentally vulnerable rail passengers.
The full Committee hearing can be viewed here
“There is now a culture of safeguarding in the transport police force.”
BTP Deputy Chief Constable, Adrian Hanstock, January 2017
So are we to take it from the following assurances given to the Transport Committee in 2017 that these chief officers were lying, poorly informed, or simply that in spite of all their good intentions they have failed to change the culture of BTP described above by the Deputy Chief Constable? Here are his further assurances to the Transport Committee:
“When we intervene, our primary approach is to be concerned. It is not about simply removing a problem; it
is very much about promoting and supporting welfare, safety and wellbeing. We have a whole focus in our
training and a completely new strategy on safeguarding, to ensure that the whole approach is what I guess
you would describe as kindness and compassion to people who find themselves vulnerable, whether they are
children or people with suicidal tendencies or mental ill health [our emphasis], homelessness or substance
And in response to a specific question from the Committee Chair:
“How do you address autism? Do you have a policy to deal with that?” DCC Hanstock response includes the following reassurances:
“In our training and our policy, we very much follow the National Autistic Society’s guidance to professionals
in the criminal justice system. Exactly as I said, we expect officers and staff to look for and be aware of
people at risk and to show concern.”
And in response to the following further assurance from DCC Hanstock:
“For the workforce, we have extended our probationary training for our new recruits by two extra weeks, in
which they look at all the specifics of safeguarding, risk and harm and their special role when they are out
and about on the network”
the Committee Chair asks: “Is it an ongoing policy area?” DCC Hanstock responds as follows:
“Yes, very much so. We have published our safeguarding strategy and our ‘From Crisis to Care’ strategy. We
have made clear all our activities to support people with autism, in particular, and other mental ill health
issues. We sign up to local authority concordats and are a signatory to the national concordat on mental
When the Chair asks BTPA’s Chief Executive, Charlotte Vitty, what the BTPA has done to change things, she gets the following reply:
“We helped to drive through the fact that we needed to deliver a strategy. The force wrote the strategy for
safeguarding. We supported them in rolling it out and how it was then governed through performance
indicators, to look at where we are doing well and where the force should focus moving forward. That is the
challenge process that happens every quarter.”
As Kat discovered above, those officers who assaulted her in 2018 were clearly unaware of the strategies and training lauded above by BTP, and so Autism Injustice calls on the Transport Committee to invite the Chief Constable back to provide an explanation as to why all the work they claim to be doing to safeguard mentally vulnerable people on trains has not been translated into action.
Watch here issues relating to autistic rail passengers and BTP being raised in Parliamentary Debate on Autism, 21st Mar 2019
As a final note regarding sensory overload and stimming on trains, the National Autistic Society produced this training video in 2018. We urge that it becomes compulsory viewing for all BTP officers and rail staff.