Suicide prevention signs installed along city’s waterfront
Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Council’s Citysafe team, Mersey Water Safety Forum and well as charities including Canal and River Trust, Samaritans and Royal National Lifeboat Institution have teamed up to commission unique signs along the River Mersey and behind the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool aimed at helping prevent suicides and other tragic incidents that may cause someone to enter the River Mersey.
The signs, which each feature a different number on them, are aimed at providing all emergency services with a more precise location of where an incident is or has taken place. This means the response time should be dramatically reduced. In addition to this, Samaritans have designed a bespoke crisis sign with their phone number for people to call if they’re in crisis.
“Just over a year ago, we were called following reports that a woman had entered the River Mersey. It took emergency services 20 minutes to get to where she was as the caller was unable to identify the exact location. This isn’t good enough and got me thinking, what can I do to change this?” Sergeant Antony Lorenzelli explained.
In 2019, 77 concerns for safety were made to the police, the quickest response time being 4 minutes and the slowest being 40 minutes.
Last year (2020), we received 63 concerns for safety, with response times ranging from 4 to 20 – the longer times due to there being no notable landmarks easily identifiable.
Sgt Lorenzelli continued: “It is all well and good being able to get to a location in under 4 minutes but more often than not, it has taken much longer, by which time, we increase the risk of being too late.
“The idea for these signs came to me when attending to a concern for safety of a woman. She was taken to the Intensive Care Unit, but thankfully recovered.
“That’s when I thought – something needs to be done. I started looking into the idea of signs and following a lot of research, which has been delayed by Covid-19, I eventually secured funding for these signs, which I think will prove vital in protecting those in need.
“The signs will feature the numbers 1 – 58 and will be fitted to the railings 50 metres apart from one another. We have also teamed up with the app ‘WhatThreeWords’ which will again give us the means to pinpoint exactly where an incident has taken place.
“Liverpool prides itself on being awarded with the prestigious Purple Flag Status and these signs, which have been funded by CitySafe, only enhance what an amazing and safe city we live in.
“We want to help those in need and give them every opportunity to strive above what may have caused them to attempt to enter the River Mersey on any given day. Not only this, we want the public to feel confident knowing they have a means of helping a person in need. But ultimately, we want to provide our officers and other emergency services with the capability to save more lives.
“I am proud that the signs are now in use and I really do hope that by having them, we can attend incidents quicker, support colleagues and protect the public.”
Liverpool’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, and the Chair of Citysafe, Councillor Liz Parsons, added: “We are committed to doing everything we can to keep our city, and the people in it, safe.
“Introducing a simple numerical system along the waterfront could be the difference between life and death, and we are proud to be able to fund this initiative through the Citysafe programme.”
Rachel Howley, Development Manager for Samaritans of Liverpool and Merseyside added: “The Samaritans is a Listening Service: there is no judgement, no pressure and our aim is to help each and every caller work through whatever is on their mind. We have worked closely with our local partners on this initiative and it is fantastic to see it come to fruition. To anyone who sees the location signs and may need us, we are available 24/7 to listen and to support you.”
Mersey Water Safety Forum Chairperson Steve Thomas concluded: “We are delighted with the launch of these Waterside Location marker signs. I am confident that they will help responding emergency services locate those in difficulty even faster, whilst also providing a Crisis message for persons in Distress. On behalf of the Mersey Water Safety Forum I would like to personally thank Sgt Lorenzelli for driving and ultimately delivering this very important initiative.