Auckland Transport looks at policing rail network

00:51, Jul 28 2014

Transit police may patrol Auckland trains in a bid to crackdown on trouble-makers on the city's rail network.

The proposal was being considered as a "long-term option" and was one of a raft of measures being looked at to curb violence on trains, an Auckland Transport spokesman said.

Auckland councillor and former policeman George Wood said transit police were "long overdue".

He said he opposed officers carrying weapons but said they needed sufficient powers to detain "cretins who thumb their nose at the law".

"They need enforcement powers and powers to arrest," he said.

"I don't know if they need similar powers to police but they need to do something. At the moment the inspectors don't even have power of detention and the fines are minimal - that's another area we'd have to look at."

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union said they supported any move that improved safety for staff and passengers.

Union secretary Wayne Butson said he believed transit police would make a difference if they were given power to arrest and detain offenders.

He said too often rail employees, and passengers were beaten up and "preyed upon by gangs".

"Basically we want a safe workplace where there's no bruises, no fear, being subjected to no intimidation," he said.
"Far too many are being assaulted."

Transit police operated in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as in several other countries including Britain and the United States.

Victoria's Protective Service Officers have drawn controversy, including reports they were handing out hundreds of fines to disabled, mentally ill and homeless people for minor infringements.

One of the first recruits also fired a gun into the floor of the Victoria police headquarters during his graduation from the 12-week training course.

Butson said transit police planned for Auckland needed to be "adequately trained", especially in subduing passengers.

He said the union backed plans for extra CCTV cameras at stations and small cameras on the lapels of train employees.

CCTV and transit police were among a list of safety suggestions put to a Manurewa Local Board meeting last week.

Gates at stations to deter fare evaders and trouble-makers was another measure included in the proposal.

It follows a trial of security guards at Auckland's 10 most dangerous stations, that will finish on Thursday. After the trial Auckland Transport will decide if the guards should be kept to deter violence and anti-social behaviour.

The 10 worst stations in Auckland for vandalism and criminal activity are Papakura, Takanini, Manurewa, Homai, Puhinui, and Middlemore in South Auckland, and Henderson, Sunnyvale, Sturgess Rd and Ranui in the west.