Calls for rail guard cuts to be reversed as violence skyrockets

Rail Unions and Labour have called for a halt to the axing of guards and station staff as figures relased by British Transport police show a 17 per cent rise in violence on British railways.

Records show there were 2,472 sexual offences last year, up 16 per cent, and 11,711 violent crimes, up by 26 per cent.

General Secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, said the figures were "shocking".

"RMT has warned that they would be turning our railways into a criminals' paradise and they have ignored us. Those private rail companies should be hanging their heads in shame this morning." he said.

"No one knows better the impact on passenger safety and security than front line staff and it is frankly disgusting that operators like Northern and SWR, where RMT members are striking for safety again this weekend, have ignored the warnings and have ploughed ahead with their dangerous ‎and toxic plans to axe guards on their trains."

"The de-staffing of Britain's violent and dangerous railways gives a green light to the muggers, sexual predators and racists and should be halted and reversed immediately."

Rachael Maskell MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister, added:“The spike in crime on our railways, including a sharp rise in sexual offences, underlines the importance of a properly staffed railway to keep passengers and employees safe."

Other crimes are also on the increase, with arson rates up by nearly 93 per cent, and cable theft up 86 per cent.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said rail operators were committed to tackling the issues. “The nature of some crimes is changing, and as part of our long-term plan to change and improve, we are investing in new technology and innovations to make our railway even safer for our staff and customers.”

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