Guards’ professionalism never in question: PTA chief
Public Transport Authority CEO Reece Waldock came out strongly today in support of the organisation’s Transit Guards.
The Transit Guards – a force of about 190 officers with a further 45 in training – are responsible for security on Transperth’s trains and at train stations. They have been under fire in the past couple of days following media coverage of CCTV footage of late-night incidents at several stations, and suggestions that the WA Police could take over part or all of the security on trains.
Mr Waldock said the PTA had been talking with the Police for about three months, looking at a range of issues and options to maximise the effectiveness of both organisations’ safety-security activities on the rail system.
“In no way does this indicate that we are unhappy with our Transit Guards – the recent public criticism of their performance has been unfair and ill-founded,” he said.
“On the contrary, I think they are doing a difficult job remarkably well – we are proud of the way they go about their work, their level of professionalism in a difficult working environment, and the results they have been achieving.
“We know from independent research that safety on board trains and at stations is one of the most important considerations for our rail customers.
“We also know that 97 per cent of our customers feel safe on board the train during the day and 75 per cent feel safe at night. Overall satisfaction with the rail system is 92 per cent.
“These figures are outstanding and are due, in large part, to the work of our Transit Guards.
“The guards are our most effective weapon in the fight against anti-social behaviour on the train system but they are a limited resource, so we support them with a range of other security measures, including a world-class surveillance system.
“Some of the vision this surveillance system has produced has been disturbing, but it has led to the arrest of the perpetrators and will ultimately deter future incidents.
“Also, it should be noted that, in the incident involving a large gang at Carlisle, our Transit Guards responded within six minutes, broke up the attack and detained two of the offenders. Ultimately 10 arrests were effected and all have resulted in convictions with custodial sentences.
“Unfortunately, some elements have a vested interest in orchestrating a campaign of fear about rail travel, regardless of the facts, and it is grossly unfair that part of this campaign involves an attack on the professionalism of our Transit Guards.
“I echo the sentiments of our Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, who said in Parliament last night that she was concerned about attempts to misrepresent the level of safety on our rail network and reduce confidence in our world-class public transport system.
“She said the Transit Guards had done ‘a pretty good job’ and that perceptions of safety had improved markedly since they were introduced.
“As she also pointed out, we had tried to get the Police involved back in 2000-2001 when we were setting up the guard system, but they refused to guarantee rostering for evening services – and you just can’t run a Transit Guard operation on that basis.
“Having said that, we are still keen to explore ways in which we might increase the policed presence on our network, especially in the evenings.
“Even if something along these lines were to eventuate, Transit Guards will still be needed to carry out daytime and other security duties – we have invested a lot in our Transit Guards, we are proud of their work, and we want to keep them.”