The initiative – called Operation Maine – is being run throughout England, Scotland and Wales and operates as part of ‘In Focus’, a series led by the Association of Chief Police Officers that focuses on issues most important to policing.
British Transport Police recorded 2,413 assaults on train staff during 2012/13, which was 5 per cent down on the previous year, and the two-week operation aims to further clamp down on abusive behaviour across the UK’s rail network.
Operation Maine coincides with times where the travelling public are often in high spirits, with Halloween-themed parties and fireworks displays across the country. Officers from the British Transport Police are to be out in force to both reassure staff and passengers and deter troublemakers.
Superintendent Phil Wilkinson claims there have been incidents in previous years of fireworks being set off in stations and thrown at trains and conductors. Operation Maine aims to deter such “mindless criminality” on the railways and Wilkinson warns that such aggression towards rail staff will not be tolerated.
“Train guards, conductors, revenue staff, station staff and even drivers, who are on the front line, are faced with abuse every day, simply for carrying out their role in keeping the railway running,” he said.
“We see a strong link between anti-social behaviour and staff assaults, particularly when staff challenge those who evade fares.
“Alcohol may also play a factor in staff abuse, with those returning from events under the influence more likely to become aggressive.
“BTP takes a hard-line approach against those who assault staff, and, working closely with the rail industry partnership, we’re determined to provide a safe working environment for all.”
Andy Odell, Police and Security Liaison Officer for the Association of Train Operating Companies, added: “The combined efforts of train companies and BTP to reduce crime on the network continue to pay off, with a fall in crime rates for nine consecutive years.
“The safety of both passenger and staff is of the utmost importance to us. Rail staff should not be subjected to intimidation, threats or abuse that can be more frequent at this time of year, which is why we will continue to work with BTP in cracking down on anti-social behaviour.”