NS, Union demand more police protection
National Railway Company NS and its workers' union have fired off a letter to Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten in which they demand measures be taken against the abuses on-board personnel often endure at the hands of passengers.More police presence demanded at train stations. treinreiziger.nl
According to AD, the first eleven months of 2013 saw 700 case of physical violence surrounding public transport, ranging from personnel threatened with weapons to personnel suffering physical injuries. In 2012 the number stood at 635.
The number of minor incidents like threats and verbal abuses have also been on the rise; in 2013 there were 5,159 cases, whereas in all of 2012 there were 4,880 incidents reported.
AD quoted FNV union board member Roel Berghuis who said the problem is growing. “It is important that Minister Opstelten keeps investing in police officers at the major stations. I understand that catching criminals out on the road is important as well, but it is really crucial that the safety of millions of travelers that make use of public transport is guaranteed,” Berghuis said.
A spokesman for Minister Opstelten said that despite the railway police being merged into the reorganized national police structure, policing on the railways has remained at a comparable level. "Surveillance and security is not lowered because of the upcoming National Police," the spokesman told NRC. "On the contrary. The police are simply more flexible, and the railways can do better than they could since they can count on the entire police force, and not only one part."
The spokesman did acknowledge the increase in aggressive behavior towards train staff, but denies this is tied to the policing strategy.
The company and the union point out in their letter that NS already invests more than €100 million per year in social safety; money that is not just spent on security cameras, but also in security personnel. “NS employs more than 100 million people who are charged with safety. The safety operations desk is manned 24/7.” The letter points out with a measure of frustration that Government is leaving them out in the cold; several police stations at train stations are closing or probably will not reopen when renovations are completed. NS and FNV want “assurances that police will continuously support our personnel and gives high priority to aggression.”