'Zero tolerance' on rail violence
BBC News: 8 November 2006
Rail workers are demanding more be done to tackle violence on trains and at stations across the north of England.
Violence is on the rise on trains and at stations, says the RMT
Staff at Northern Rail, which operates services across the region, are calling for a zero tolerance approach, according to the RMT union.
Demands include more staff, an increased police presence and greater support from managers.
Northern Rail said it was bucking national trends and had reduced assaults compared to 2005.
"Northern will not tolerate any act of violence or intimidation against any member of staff" - Northern Rail spokesman
The RMT petition, signed by conductors and station staff, calls for managers to be on hand late at night and at weekends to provide support and co-ordinate resources, and for stations to remain open until the departure of the last train.
It also calls for a ban on alcohol on some services.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The statistics tell the sorry story of more and more violence against railway staff, particularly late at night and at weekends, and our members are telling Northern Rail that they have reached the end of the line.
"We will work with anyone who can help stop the violence - but Northern Rail really do not have the option of failing to respond positively to this campaign."
Mr Crow said there had been 109 physical assaults and 230 cases of threats and verbal abuse on Northern Rail staff this year, but that many more go unreported.
A Northern Rail spokesman said: "Northern will not tolerate any act of violence or intimidation against any member of staff and will seek the strongest penalty against any individual who threatens their safety."
He also said that Northern Rail worked closely with the British Transport Police (BTP), carried out specific operations to detect weapons, and had brought private prosecutions against offenders.
British Transport Police said officers worked closely with Northern Rail staff to tackle violence, and it had launched numerous schemes, such as issuing DNA swab kits to rail staff, and had a senior BTP officer seconded to Northern Rail since February.