TfL staff at Tube stations across London were subjected to more than 240 incidents of abuse per month during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.
A Freedom of Information request carried out by workforce management company WorkForce Software has revealed that staff at London’s Tube stations faced an average of 245 incidents of abuse per month between April 2020 and December 2021, including 24 physical assaults per month.
The data revealed a correlation between fare evasion and abusive behaviour, with almost 2,500 incidents of abuse having been a result of fare disputes in that time period.
TfL estimates that it loses around £116million per year as a result of fare evasion and ticket fraud across all its services.
Victoria station saw the highest number of abusive incidents relating to fare evasion during the pandemic, with 71 incidents recorded between April 2020 and December 2021. Notting Hill Gate saw the second highest number of incidents with 66.
Staff at King’s Cross Tube station were the “most abused” during the pandemic, with a total of 147 abusive incidents against workers recorded in that time. Oxford Circus was the Tube station that saw the highest number of physical assaults against staff, with 16.
But TfL has said that the number could be even higher, as workplace violence is “underreported”.
Mandy McGregor, TfL’s Head of Transport Policing and Community Safety, said: “Our staff have the right to do their job without fear or intimidation and we do not tolerate any violence, aggression or threatening behaviour towards them. We take workplace violence extremely seriously and know that it is underreported, so we always encourage staff to report any instance of abuse whether physical or non-physical so that preventative measures can be taken, and the strongest penalties brought against offenders.
“We have been working closely with our unions on a number of commitments to reduce risk to our frontline colleagues and customers and we have sought regular feedback and input from them to shape our work-related violence strategy. This includes equipping our staff with body worn video cameras and funding a team of enforcement officers who were introduced to support frontline staff and tackle workplace violence. We have also increased the size of the London Underground Revenue team to tackle fare evasion, which is often a trigger for violence and aggression towards staff. We work extremely closely with the police to prevent assaults on our network and ensure offenders are brought to justice.”
Body-worn video footage led to the sentencing of three individuals last year over three separate incidents of abuse against TfL staff.
Agris Grisins was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment for physically assaulting two TfL staff members while Jonathan Saber was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, after racially and homophobically abusing TfL staff. Keia Williamson was sentenced to a 12-month community order after assaulting staff members who asked her to wear a face mask when they were compulsory.