Bodycams worn by Virgin Trains staff sees assaults drop by half

Virgin Pendolino tiliting around a curve // Credit: Virgin Trains
Virgin Pendolino tiliting around a curve // Credit: Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains has announced that it has become the first UK train operator to provide body-worn cameras for its frontline staff.

Following a pilot scheme by the train operator, they have rolled out 275 cameras across its entire network.

Since this was completed in February 2018, assaults on Virgin Trains staff have reduced from 20 in March 2018 to 6 in September.

A survey completed by Virgin Trains found that more than 80% of staff felt safer at work while wearing bodycams and nearly 90% would recommend them to colleagues.

In another first, Virgin Trains has given the British Transport Police direct access to footage from the cameras. If this is needed, a state of the art cloud system allows them to view the footage when the cameras are docked.

The introduction of bodycams on Virgin Trains has already led to one conviction so far, where a man pleaded guilty in June to a public order offence following an incident in April this year on a train in Wolverhampton.

What did the officials say?

Lewis Komodromou, a Revenue Protection Team Leader for Virgin Trains, was assaulted by a passenger who had an invalid ticket at Euston station.

Lewis was shoved, subjected to verbal abuse and threatened. Other colleagues intervened, and the man was arrested.

The 26-year-old suffered a shoulder injury in the assault.

He said:

“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. Luckily my Virgin Trains colleagues were there to make sure I was okay.”

“My colleagues have said they feel much safer wearing the bodycams and they have more confidence in situations which could escalate. The response has been really positive,” he said. “Since the bodycams have been introduced it has stopped lots of situations that could otherwise get out of hand. The bodycams have also been great for passing on evidence needed for the BTP.”

Chief Inspector Lorna McEwan, of The British Transport Police, said:

“The introduction of body worn cameras is an important step along the road in helping to ensure the safety of rail staff and passengers alike.

“Being assaulted or verbally abused simply for doing your job is completely unacceptable. No one should ever have to feel unsafe – especially when they are at work – and these cameras will help provide us with vital evidence should the inexcusable happen.

“We will continue to actively work with all rail companies to tackle this issue head on.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, said:

“We’re proud of Britain’s railway having such a strong safety record but as an industry we are always looking at ways we can make it even safer. One assault against a rail worker is one too many. Our research shows that body cameras can make a difference — cutting assaults on staff by almost half. We’re now working together as an industry to develop plans to roll out this technology nation-wide.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash 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 more 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.”

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