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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

GTR announces plan to tackle antisocial behaviour

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This Rail Safety Week, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has announced it is investing £2.5 million to help tackle abuse and disorder through its new Antisocial Behaviour Improvement Plan. The plan has been developed following a 23% increase in verbal staff assaults and almost a 10% increase in physical staff assaults across the rail operator’s network over the past year.

Feedback was captured following numerous workshops within GTR, as well as consulting other stakeholders including local schools, police forces and trade unions.

The plan sets out the following commitments:

  • Rolling out over 1,500 new Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras to frontline staff.
  • Doubling the number of Travel Safe Officers across the network.
  • Developing an education programme for schools.
  • Improving training and aftercare so staff feel supported.
  • Hiring more staff in safety division.
  • Working closer with policing and prosecutions teams to remove offenders from the railway.

GTR has already produced personal guides to security and wellbeing, which have been issued to all of its 7,000+ colleagues. It has also doubled the number of Travel Safe Officers on its network, who are deployed using data-led insight to support British Transport Police (BTP) and other staff on the ground. This targeted approach has led to a 13% reduction in staff assaults, according to BTP statistics.

The concept is being rolled out following an initial trial in the West Coastway area in October, November, and December 2023. The deployment of Travel Safe Officers, plus collaboration with police forces and other local authorities, drove a reduction of almost 60% for incidents related to antisocial behaviour. Due to its success, the format is being used in other areas of GTR’s network.

With 80% of staff reports about assault citing verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and foul language[2], the rail operator is also working with BTP’s ‘Workplace Violence Coordination Unit’ to support colleagues that have experienced assault of any kind whilst at work. In addition, it is introducing 1,542 new BWV cameras to staff to provide better evidence when trying to convict criminals.

Further demonstrating its commitment in this area, GTR has also created three new roles in the business, including a Security Improvement Manager, a Safety and Security School Engagement Manager and a BWV Project Manager, who are due to begin their roles this summer.

Samantha Facey.

Samantha Facey, health, safety and security director at GTR, said: “The rise in antisocial behaviour is being felt across industries and communities nationwide. Whilst we cannot solve the problem on our own, we hope that with increased tools and resources, as well as closer working with other industry partners, we can begin to turn the dial on this kind of behaviour.

“Everyone travelling with us deserves to get home safely, and our colleagues deserve to be treated with respect; physical or verbal abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. Our Antisocial Behaviour Improvement Plan not only demonstrates that we are serious about tackling this issue, but we are also seeing positive results since its launch.”

Chief Superintendent at BTP, Chris Casey, added: “We are focused on ensuring stations and trains remains a safe and pleasant environment for the travelling public and for railway staff. We will continue to work closely with our partners in the rail industry and in local communities to tackle and prevent antisocial behaviour, and prosecute those that threaten and abuse others on the railway network.

“We understand how intimidating antisocial behaviour can be, and anyone who witnesses or experiences anti-social behaviour can discreetly contact our text-to-report number 61016 to report the incident without alerting anyone else.”

GTR, which runs Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains, has also just pledged its support for the ‘Service with Respect’ campaign, introduced by the Institute of Customer Service. The initiative involves hundreds of companies across the UK with customer-facing roles and promotes knowledge and experience sharing when it comes to tackling staff abuse, as well as calling for better support and stronger policies.

Image credit: Peter Alvey

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