Festive police patrols to be increased on rail services
POLICE patrols are to be stepped up on rail services over the festive season to protect staff from assaults and abuse.
A major campaign was being launched today to highlight an upsurge in attacks on rail staff over the holiday period.
First ScotRail is joining forces with the Scottish Executive, Crimestoppers, the British Transport Police and Network Rail to launch the initiative.
Around 25,000 leaflets distributed on trains across the First ScotRail and Strathclyde Passenger Transport networks over the next week.
This will be followed by a poster campaign on trains and at stations.
The number of reported assaults on staff in Scotland is falling. In 2003 there were 128 assaults reported compared to 151 in 2002. So far in 2004 there have been 104 incidents reported.
Mary Dickson, managing director of First ScotRail, said: "Staff have the right to work in a safe and secure environment and First ScotRail will not tolerate assaults of any nature, whether physical or verbal.
"Although figures are falling, one assault on a member of our staff is one too many and we are working closely with British Transport Police and our other industry partners to clamp down on members of the public who abuse our staff.
"We have no hesitation in prosecuting offenders."
To coincide with the awareness campaign British Transport Police will be running operation "safer journey" which will see an increased police presence on many services.
Ronnie Mellis, area commander of British Transport Police, said: "We are working with First ScotRail and other rail industry partners to tackle assaults on staff.
"The number of staff being assaulted is currently down on last year, however, we cannot be complacent. Every staff assault, no matter the nature, is subject of the most detailed police investigation and we detect the vast majority of offences. All persons detected will be reported for prosecution."
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive added: "The effects of abuse - physical and verbal - can be devastating for those on the receiving end.
"Transport workers - and people working in public services - should be able to carry out their duties over the festive period and throughout the year free from fear."
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