Union fears: ‘Body cams will make rail staff a target’

Union fears: ‘Body cams will make rail staff a target’
Kent Station, Cork. Pic Denis Scannell

PROVIDING Irish Rail staff with body cameras will make them a target for assault and antisocial behaviour, it has been claimed.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has hit out Irish Rail’s plans to introduce up to 200 body cameras for staff which it hopes will help combat anti-social behaviour on train and Dart services.

The transport organisation is aiming to provide the new technology for workers before the end of this year with the cameras now gone out to tender.

Spokesperson for Irish Rail, Barry Kenny, explained that research indicates that the introduction of body cameras leads to a reduction in the number of assaults.

However, Cork man Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), said the union completely rejects the proposal.

“Frontline staff are already targets for people engaged in this antisocial behaviour or outright thuggery,” he explained. Putting a body camera on them makes them even more likely to be a target.

“The people we represent are the interface between the customer and the company, traditionally known as front of house staff,” he added.

“They’re customer service agents, train hosts, ticket checkers and so on.

“They are not gardaí and they do not have the powers of arrest or detention or the training to deal with this and we would reject any proposal involving body cameras on our members.

“We’re hearing reports that members of the gardaí are to be equipped with body cameras.

“They are the defenders of law and order in the state — our members are not.”

The NBRU has been campaigning for a dedicated transport police to be established.

This call was reiterated following reports of open cocaine use on Cork trains in recent months.

Footage appeared online in recent weeks which appeared to show blatant drug use, in broad daylight, onboard a train bound for Cork.

Video footage of the alleged incident was uploaded online which appeared to show two men snorting a substance on the train.

The Echo revealed last year that Irish Rail had received more than 7,000 complaints in relation to Cork routes over an 18 month period.

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