Two young missing girls from Blackpool were able to safely return home thanks to the work of a “quick-thinking” train conductor.
Conductor Paul Wilkinson – who has worked for Northern for nearly 16 years – was working onboard a service from Blackpool North to York one evening last week (22 March) when he sensed that “something wasn’t quite right” with two of the passengers.
After his instincts kicked-in, Paul approached the passengers – who where two teenage girls under the age of 16 – and was eventually able to ascertain that they had, in their words, “run away from home”.
Paul then immediately alerted British Transport Police (BTP) to the situation.
BTP then intercepted the train at Leeds station after Paul’s “quick-thinking” actions, before taking the girls into their duty of care, and reuniting them with their families.
Inspector Pete Wilcock from the British Transport Police praised Paul for being tuned-in to spotting the signs of children who are “vulnerable or at risk”.
He explained: “As guardians of the railway, we are constantly working with and training rail staff on how to look beyond the obvious and spot the signs of children who are vulnerable or at risk. And we continue to work together, sharing intelligence and knowledge, to create a network of people who can understand, identify and help support and safeguard children.
“That’s exactly what Paul did.
“Thanks to his quick thinking the girls were returned home once safeguarding checks had been completed.”
This incident comes after Northern teamed up with charity Railway Children back in 2022, and began the process of training its 7,000-strong workforce in how to spot vulnerable people on the railway and have the confidence to intervene.
Paul urged people to “always trust your instincts” in these situations.
“I’ve worked on the railway for nearly 16 years and you meet hundreds if not thousands of customers every day, but through experience and training you can feel when something isn’t quite right, and you know that you need to call BTP,” Paul admitted after the incident.
Officers have been carrying out searches of people arriving on site this week – and have already arrested a 24-year-old man.
A quantity of pills and a knife were both recovered from the man, who has been arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs and possession of a bladed article.
After the arrest, Superintendent Phil Spurgeon issued a statement to criminals, saying ‘don’t bother coming to Parklife’.
He said: “We have a really robust police and partnership community safety operation for the festival, and the arrest and seizure yesterday demonstrates the vigilance of security staff, our thorough search procedures and our commitment to keeping people safe.
“Make no mistake, illegal items such as weapons and drugs can have fatal consequences. Our top priority this weekend is keeping people safe, and anyone caught trying to take such items into the festival will be robustly dealt with.
“I hope the genuine festival-goers are excited for the fantastic weekend ahead and I am confident the majority will enjoy the event responsibly and safely.”
Greater Manchester Police and Parklife security staff will be working closely together to intercept anyone travelling to the festival with criminal intentions.
The arrest on 8 June was thanks to the festival’s drug detection dogs.
In a formal statement addressing the situation, the city‘s flagship further education institution says some of its systems have been accessed by an “unauthorised party” and that data has “likely been copied” as a result of this.
The University’s in-house experts are said to be “working around the clock” to resolve the issue.
External support teams are also said to be working in collaboration with the University to understand what data has been accessed.
Patrick Hackett – Registrar, Secretary, and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Manchester – explained in a statement issued this morning: “Regrettably, I have to share with you the news that the University is the victim of a cyber incident, [as] it has been confirmed that some of our systems have been accessed by an unauthorised party and data have likely been copied.
“Our in-house experts and established expert external support are working around the clock to resolve this incident, and we are working to understand what data has been accessed”.
Mr Hackett said he understands the nature of the issue will “cause concern to members of our community”, and says the University is “very sorry for this”.
The University says it is also working with relevant authorities – including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the National Crime Agency, and other regulatory bodies – to resolve the issue, and will provide information to those affected as soon as they are able to.
Students and staff are also be told to be vigilant to any suspicious phishing emails within the coming days – with the University’s IT Services team having published some relevant advice to refer to.