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A TORY minister has made the surprise admission that train guards are vital to fighting drug gangs.
Organised Crime Minister Ben Wallace has acknowledged that the extension of driver-only operations (DOO) on the railways would undermine the work of police anti-drugs units.
In a ministerial letter to independent MP John Woodcock, revealed by rail union RMT today, Mr Wallace said guards are part of the front-line teams that help identify young people as drug mules.
The minister pointed out that government officials regularly liaise with railway workers and employers to help fight “county line” drug gangs, which use children to carry banned substances into rural areas.
He also implied that guards are involved in the distribution of “communication materials” to raise public awareness of drug trafficking.
RMT, which will enter its 35th day of strike action this weekend in its campaign to retain guards on trains, has called for the immediate halt to any plans to implement DOO.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “The guards on our trains are the eyes and ears of the rail service and play a crucial role in combating crime, whether that’s assaults, sexual harassment or spotting those who may be in a vulnerable position, like young kids being used as mules by county lines drug gangs.
“This ministerial letter, admitting that the axing of guards has huge implications for the fight against crime and the drug gangs, backs up everything RMT has been saying about the dangers of driver-only operation.”
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