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Unions call for end to sacking vital railway staff

UNIONS demanded an end to the sacking of vital railway staff today after stark new figures revealed that knife crime on Britain’s railways has tripled in the past three years.

Statistics released by British Transport Police (BTP) have shown that there was a staggering 1,059 recorded knife-related incidents in 2018 — a massive leap from 338 recorded incidents in 2015.

And they have been rising year on year with 417 recorded in 2016 and 632 in 2017.

Offences involving a knife included violence against the person — such as murder, attempted murder, GBH and possession of a bladed weapon — sexual offences, criminal damage, robbery, theft and drug crime.

The figures come a week after the BTP revealed that general violent crime on the London Underground has increased by 43 per cent over the same period.

BTP Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell said: “Tackling any rise in crime and removing weapons from the rail network remains our top priority and nationwide, officers have been working tirelessly in the battle against knife crime.”

The RMT union, which has been fighting to keep a safety-critical guard on all railway services for over two years, has expressed concern that poor staffing at many railway and Underground stations encourages anti-social and criminal behaviour.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “No-one can now seriously argue that there isn’t a rising tide of violence on Britain’s railways and these latest shocking BTP figures are borne out by our members’ day-to-day experiences at the sharp end of the transport network.

“Staff are the eyes and ears of the service, and axing them in the drive towards an automated and faceless railway in the name of profit gives a green light to the thugs and criminals and it is grossly and dangerously irresponsible.

“The threat to our guards and our station staff should be lifted immediately.”

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told the Star: “We believe that the safety and security of our railway has to be improved both for the travelling public and for staff.

“That’s why we are calling, again, for all trains and all stations to be properly staffed.

“And calling on central government to invest the necessary resources both at local level, and in the BTP, to ensure that everyone can travel safely at any time of the day or night.”

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