Team of rail sheriffs more than doubled to crack down on people who delay trains
- Credit: James Bass
The region's rail operator has more than doubled its team of sheriffs to crack down on behaviour which delays trains.
Greater Anglia has announced it will hire 18 new land sheriffs to patrol trains and stations in East Anglia, bringing its total up to 30.
The uniformed team, first introduced in 2015, helps keep customers safe, deal with anti-social behaviour and fare evaders and enforce railway bylaws.
But their role goes further - as well as helping customers where they can, such as carrying their luggage, they have prevented seven potential suicides this year, having been trained by the Samaritans to spot people who may be in difficulty.
The extra 18 officers will allow the franchise to create nine teams across the network to focus on preventing behaviour which can delay trains.
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They gave an example of people trying to pull the doors open on trains, perhaps to get on as the train is leaving, or to get off without paying.
It causes the emergency brakes to come on while it is investigated, delaying the service.
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Greater Anglia said they hoped the new teams would not only prevent 'potentially dangerous behaviours', but would see more trains run on time.
Neil Grabham, Greater Anglia's head of customer service, said: 'Rail travel is generally a very safe and secure mode of transport, but we want passengers to feel safe when they travel with us and the land sheriffs do a great job of deterring crime, dealing with anti-social behaviour and providing a reassuring presence to passengers on trains and at stations.'
One of the teams is focused on suicide prevention, while others focus on anti-social behaviour. Teams are tasked with patrolling trains and stations during football matches.
The sheriffs - hired from an organisation called Land Sheriffs - have the power to enforce railway by-laws, remove people from trains and report crimes, though they cannot arrest anyone.
The land sheriffs were on board trains between Norwich and Ipswich on Sunday for the East Anglian derby match.
There is a dedicated team of sheriffs in Norwich.