Kent

Extra police tackle Kent railway crime

An extra 10 British Transport Police (BTP) officers have been deployed on a railway line in Kent because of anti-social behaviour and assaults on staff.

They are policing the Medway Valley Line between Strood and Maidstone.

Insp Ed Walden said guards had suffered verbal and physical abuse, including being spat at, pushed, and a rock was thrown at one man's face.

Rail operator Southeastern said it was working with police to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Ticket office closures

This year, the Medway Valley Line has seen an average of one assault on a member of staff every month.

Paul Cox, from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), said ticket office closures were part of the problem and most of the stations on the route were unstaffed.

He said: "A long-term solution is to staff every station and prevent one of the major causes of assaults, which is confrontations that result from people trying to avoid paying fares.

"If there's no-one on the station, if the station's unstaffed, and people just feel that they can walk on to the trains without buying a ticket.

"That does lead to these confrontations and we believe also that staffing of stations gives a feeling of safety and security to the travelling public."

Southeastern said in a statement: "Anti-social behaviour on our trains and at our stations is totally unacceptable.

"We work hard alongside the British Transport Police to make the railways as safe as possible.

"We are proud that over 70 of our stations have safer station awards independently accredited to them."

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