Train staff to wear body cameras after assault fears

Virgin trains in Preston
Virgin trains in Preston
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Staff on Lancashire trains are to wear body cameras to record any trouble on the railways.

Staff on Virgin trains will be wearing the body cameras after a successful trial of the scheme in the West Midlands.

Virgin says that attacks on staff have more than halved since the scheme began, and they are now looking to roll it out nationwide.

As well as providing a deterrent for attacks, footage from the cameras can also be used in court in cases where a crime is committed.

Research across the rail industry found that attacks on staff at station barriers fell by 47% when they were wearing the cameras during a pilot last year.

Lewis Komodromou, a revenue protection team leader for Virgin Trains, said he feels safer with a bodycam after previously being assaulted by a passenger with an invalid ticket at London Euston station.

The 26-year-old, who suffered a shoulder injury, recalled: “I was extremely shocked after the ordeal. I hadn’t really been in that type of situation before so I didn’t know how to react.

“Since the bodycams have been introduced it has stopped lots of situations that could otherwise get out of hand.”

British Transport Police recorded 6,960 incidents of assault against rail staff in 2015/16, although many attacks are believed to go unreported.

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Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “One assault against a rail worker is one too many. We’re now working together as an industry to develop plans to roll out this technology nationwide.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of rail union the RMT, said: "There must be zero tolerance of assaults on rail staff and this is a victory for RMT's campaign to reduce attacks on our members. However, there is still much more to be done and the use of devices such as body worn cameras must be accompanied by proper safeguards to protect staff which don't leave them singled them out for disciplinary action.

"It is also no good bringing in such protective measures when at the same time the Government and train operators are de-staffing trains and stations, leaving the workforce and the travelling public Amore vulnerable to assaults and anti social behaviour.

"The fact that body worn cameras are being rolled out is just another reflection of the state of Britain's violent railways. Assaults and abuse are on the rise and yet the Government are inflaming the situation by demanding driver only operation on their franchises. That dash to de-staff the railway needs to stop.

"There is no point bringing in bodycams if there is no one to wear them and that fact alone highlights the dangerous stupidity of companies like Northern and South Western Railway and their plans to axe guards."