‘Enormous improvement’ after crackdown at train station

Helensburgh Central station

A crackdown on anti-social behaviour at Helensburgh Central train station has been hailed as a success.

MSP Jackie Baillie has chaired three multi-agency meetings with representatives from Helensburgh Community Council, Police Scotland, British Transport Police, social work, ScotRail, ASLEF and RMT after a string of violence and threatening behaviour pushed train workers to the brink of strike action.

Security guards have been on patrol and there has been a visibly increased police presence.

Last week the meeting heard from police that there had been no recent incidents in stations or on board trains in the area.

Social work managers from Helensburgh and West Dunbartonshire said staff had made good progress in working with a small group of vulnerable young people.

Ms Baillie said: “There has been an enormous improvement over the past few weeks thanks to the work of the police, social services, trade unions and ScotRail.

“I called the first meeting as an emergency because tensions were running high and the situation at local train stations was reaching a tipping point.

“Staff and passengers were being attacked or abused on an almost nightly basis and ScotRail workers were on the verge of walking out to protect their own safety.

“We all need to remain vigilant to ensure that any similar problems in future are dealt with swiftly and that the authorities have the powers they need to protect staff and passengers.”

The Dumbarton constituency MSP met Transport Minister Humza Yousaf  in Edinburgh this week alongside representatives from Helensburgh Community Council and the trade unions to demand new legal measures to minimise the risk of similar problems in future.

She wants the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 to be extended to protect transport workers and called for British Transport Police to be given powers to ban troublemakers from train stations, something which already exists in England and Wales.

During the meeting Mr Yousaf confirmed that the Scottish Government will review the legislation.

Norman Muir of the community council said: “The multi-agency approach to resolving the youth disturbance problem in Helensburgh worked well.

“Rail passengers and the community at large must have confidence that effective restrictive measures, including legislation, are in place to deal effectively with any future occurrence.”

Jim Gray, ScotRail co-ordinator at RMT, said his union welcomed the efforts of everyone in the multi-agency response, adding: ““We will continue to press the Scottish Government to include transport workers in the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005.”