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Cuts could leave tube staff “dangerously isolated” after assaults on staff jump 44%

Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross AM has called on the Mayor of London to do more to protect London Underground workers following a 44% increase in assaults on London Underground staff since 2009. The sharp rise in assaults on staff has sparked renewed concern about the Mayor’s plan to axe 900 staff from tube stations with Ms Shawcross warning the cuts would leave staff at some stations feeling “dangerously isolated”.

Figures published for this month’s TfL Board meeting show that the number of assaults on tube staff have increased by nearly 50% in the last five years, rising from 1,917 in 2009/10 to 2,753 in 2013/14. The rise in the number of assaults comes despite a significant cut in the number of customer-facing employees since 2009.

Alongside Boris Johnson’s ticket office closures programme, he is set to axe almost 900 staff from stations, a move Ms Shawcross says has the potential to leave the remaining staff in ticket halls and on the platform more vulnerable to assault.

Concerns have also been raised about the staffing proposals for the night tube service which is due to start in September. Despite alcohol being known to be a significant factor in assaults on staff, and particular spikes on Friday and Saturday nights, TfL plans to employ just 250 members of staff to cover 138 night tube stations, leaving some stations staffed by only one employee.

London Assembly Labour Transport Spokesperson, Val Shawcross AM, said:

“With assaults on staff up 44% since 2009, the Mayor needs to show he is taking his responsibilities to protect staff seriously. Axing almost 900 staff from the tube stations and spreading the remainder out across the ticket halls and platforms risks leaving tube station staff feeling dangerously isolated.

“What nobody wants to see is staff left feeling unsafe on quiet platforms and in empty ticket halls. We need to see immediate action from the Mayor to get to the bottom of this worrying rise in assaults and to show that his station staff cuts aren’t going to leave workers more vulnerable in the future.

“Whilst the introduction of the night tube will be great for many passengers there are serious worries about TfL’s approach to staffing. With alcohol a proven factor in a significant number of assaults, we have to ask how safe employees will feel being the sole member of staff in a station at 3am and dealing with crowds of passengers coming back from a night on the town.”

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