Network Rail’s Southern region has launched a new campaign reminding passengers that ‘Behind Every Uniform is Someone Just Like You’ after new data revealed an increase in verbal and physical assaults across stations.
New statistics show that 9/10 people working in the region’s big stations have suffered abuse, including verbal abuse of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature, as well as physical assaults.
- Almost every member of staff surveyed reported being the victim of verbal abuse.
- 4/10 have been victims of racial abuse.
- 3/10 have been physically assaulted.
- 1/10 have suffered abuse of a sexual nature, including groping and lewd comments.
Today, Network Rail in the south of England has launched a new campaign to remind passengers that “Behind Every Uniform is Someone Just Like You”, while body-worn cameras are also being rolled out as an extra layer of protection.
Sam Chessex, Network Rail’s director of stations, said: “We know most of our passengers wouldn’t dream of behaving like this, but the statistics don’t lie.
“This campaign reminds people that behind the uniforms there are real people, with real lives, who deserve to be treated with respect.
“If you can’t treat our people with respect, we will be pursuing prosecutions.”
Ryodon Goddard, Network Rail station manager at London Charing Cross and London Cannon Street, said: “As station staff, our priorities are to keep passengers moving safely. We appreciate that delays can sometimes be extremely frustrating and we want to use this campaign to remind passengers to treat station staff with respect because they’re just trying to do their job and be helpful.”
Haffif Asunramu, a former customer service assistant at London Bridge, who now works as a revenue protection officer at the station, recalled being spat at during the height of the Covid lockdown in May 2021.
“People were still very nervous about travelling and there was a man hanging around outside the toilets, spitting on the floor,” Hafif said. “I had to challenge him and ask him to leave, and he told me to go back to my own country and racially abused me.
“He continued to racially abuse me. It was almost as if he was just saying anything that might provoke a reaction. You almost have to numb yourself to the racism, but then you don’t come to work to be abused like this.”
Another colleague, Mike Ezra, a customer service assistant, had to take time off after being threatened on a night shift.
“He started running towards me shouting and screaming and had his hand in a bag. I was frightened – I didn’t know what was in the bag. I thought he was going to stab me or something, so I ran,” Mike recalled.
“The police eventually caught up with him and detained him. But I had to take time off work because I was genuinely scared for my life. I didn’t know if he was going to come back. I felt like I needed to get used to being around people again.”
What to do if you witness abuse in a station?
If you witness abuse at a station, whether of railway staff or members of the public, please report it to the British Transport Police by phoning 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016 for non-emergency enquiries.
If you want to report abuse anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Photo and video credit: Network Rail