Passengers across Scotland urged to plan ahead and travel safe this festive season
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British Transport Police (BTP) are working with Transport Scotland to provide more officers on the rail network to ensure passengers enjoy the festive season safely.
BTP wants everyone to have fun during the festive period and will be on patrol to engage with the public to raise awareness of reporting crimes on the rail network using the text 61016 number and by downloading the Railway Guardian app.
The patrols will focus on the network’s main hubs and will also see an increased presence across the network throughout the month.
The operation will see an increase in high-visibility patrols on trains and at stations dedicated to keeping the public safe. These patrols will be in place to tackle anti-social behaviour, sexual harassment and to increase awareness of the reporting crimes on the rail network using the Railway Guardian app and by texting 61016.
BTP is also reminding the public to be respectful to rail staff and to plan ahead when using the trains.
The operation aims to prevent crime and to ensure that the railway remains a safe place to travel, as well as provide reassurance and safety advice to passengers.
BTP Chief Inspector Brian McAleese said: “We’ll be working closely with our partners to ensure everyone enjoys the festive season with friends and family.
“Despite more police officers on the rail network, rail staff and members of the public are our eyes and ears and a major part of the railway family.
“Passengers have a vital role to play in helping make the rail network safe for everyone, by reporting anything that doesn’t feel right - for example an unattended item, someone acting suspiciously or inappropriately, or looking distressed, lost or vulnerable.
“Our officers will continue patrolling the rail network and they will be encouraging passengers to download the Railway Guardian app and reminding passengers of our text 61016 number for reporting crimes on the rail network.
“The Railway Guardian app helps the public report crimes to BTP. Via the app, the public can text 61016 or report via the BTP website. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call 999.
“By working together, we can ensure everyone enjoys this festive period safely.”
Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Transport said: “I have been clear that more needs to be done to make travelling on public transport a safe and pleasant experience for everyone, particularly women and girls. Everyone has the right to travel not only safely, but also to feel safe in making their journeys. Those working on our railways have an absolute right to go about their business without fear of verbal or physical assault.
“This app enables the public to play their part in keeping Scotland’s Railway safe by offering a discrete way to report anything suspicious. Our plea to the public is that they support BTP in their efforts by downloading and using the app.”
David Lister, ScotRail’s Safety, Engineering & Sustainability Director said:
“Everyone at ScotRail will be working hard over the Christmas and New Year to provide the best service we can to our passengers and to support the communities we serve.
“Our number one priority is always the safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff so we’ll be working with partners like British Transport Police to make sure everyone can safely enjoy our services.
“Christmas is always a busy and challenging period for our staff as we welcome large numbers onto the network across Scotland. We would ask everyone to be considerate to our staff and fellow passengers and if you do see something that doesn’t look right please report it to British Transport Police or a member of staff.”
A joint statement from ASLEF Organiser, Kevin Lindsay, RMT Organiser Mick Hogg, TSSA Organiser Gary Kelly and Unite Regional Industrial Officer Pat McIlvogue, said, "Over the festive period it's natural to want a drink with friends and colleagues and it's much better, and safer, to use the railways when you do so. But we want everyone to be able to enjoy Scotland's railways in the evening and it's never acceptable to harass our staff or vandalise our trains, whether you've had a drink or not.
"We're appealing to everyone, whether you're a regular traveler or enjoying a Christmas night out with pals, to remember to treat railway staff and other passengers with courtesy and respect. Let's all have a peaceful and safe Christmas and New Year."