Cutting free police travel will result in more attacks, says RMT
RMT: October 2 2008
REMOVING FREE travel from Metropolitan police officers will result in more attacks on transport workers and passengers, specialist transport union RMT warned today.
Offering police officers free transport helps prevent some attacks and should be extended to all forces to help stem the rising tide of violence faced by transport workers, the union says.
Responding to reports that the Met force was under pressure over the £24 million ‘cost’ of free travel for its officers, RMT called for all transport companies to be obliged to carry police officers free of charge.
The union is campaigning for better protection of transport workers, highlighting the year-on-year increase in attacks on staff and calling for co-ordinated action to tackle the problem, as well as better legal protection for transport workers.
“Free travel for police officers was introduced by the Met in the 1970s to help stop the rise in attacks on transport staff – and it does help,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“Every Met officer who uses free travel on buses, Tubes and trains intervenes on average three times a year to stop or prevent trouble, and it is clear that ending the scheme would result in more transport workers and members of the public being attacked.
“Just as all transport workers should receive free travel as a matter of course, police officers should be able to expect it as well – and it should be extended to every force, not just the Met.
“The human cost of violence against transport staff is growing, and it makes sense for every transport operator in the country to carry police officers, whether on duty or not, for free.
“It should not be seen as a perk, and it certainly shouldn’t be used by private transport operators as a profit-making opportunity.
“It is another sign of the lunacy of privatisation that there is a price tag attached to carrying police officers at all.
“The British Transport Police already need a huge increase in resources to be able to respond to the calls it already gets, but ending free travel for police officers on cost grounds would be a massive step in the wrong direction,” Bob Crow said.
Notes to editors:
Official figures from the Rail Safety and Standards board show 4,865 reported assaults against rail workers, or 13 a day, in 2007, up from 3,179 in 2002.
That figure does not include London Underground, where there were 2,064 reported assaults during 2006/07 – a 17.5 per cent increase over the previous year.
The bus industry has been so fragmented since its deregulation and privatisation in the mid-1980s that industry-wide assault figures are simply not kept.
A recent RMT survey of its members suggests that assaults of transport workers are under-reported by at least 36 per cent.
The survey also showed that 40 per cent of incidents reported to the BTP were not attended – but 51 per cent of those that were attended and investigated resulted in successful convictions.
RMT’s transport Workers’ Charter of Protection, launched last month, demands:
* Workplace violence policies that adequately protect our members.
* Policies that provide aftercare and counselling for staff.
* Zero tolerance on violence at work and maximum penalties for offenders.
* Training for staff in dealing with conflict.
* Consultation on additional security measures.
* Consultation on risk assessments of high-risk areas.
* Elimination of lone working.
* Investigation of incidents by employers and the police.
* Reporting of all incidents by victims.
* Improvements to the travelling environment.
Early Day motion 901
ASSAULTS ON TRANSPORT WORKERS
Tabled by John McDonnell and signed by 75 others to date
"That this House applauds the vital work of Britain's transport workers who, as essential public servants, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; believes there is a clear responsibility on the Government together with employers in the rail, ferry and bus industries to take all the necessary steps to prevent staff assaults and provide care for those who are assaulted; further believes that reducing staff assaults will help reduce anti-social behaviour and provide a safer environment for transport users; therefore supports the aims of the campaign of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union which seeks firstly to raise awareness with employers and the public, secondly to secure the strongest possible legal protection for transport workers against assault, thirdly to establish effective cross company forums in each of the rail, bus and ferry industries and finally to persuade transport employers to adopt best practice when developing policies to prevent staff assaults and provide care for those who are victims of assault."