Exclusive: 24-hour Tube “will raise drunkenness, violence, and sexual assaults off the scale”

Unions slam mayor’s “Night Tube vanity project”

There have been 4,772 drunk and disorderly arrests on the Tube since 2003, a Freedom of Information request by LondonLovesBusiness.com has revealed.

The figures come as Transport for London announces the launch of a 24-hour weekend service beginning in September.

Union bosses have described the figures as “shocking”, and said there are “far more incidents than arrests”.

Last month it was revealed that reported sexual and violent crime on the Tube is increasing, despite falling crime statistics across the Tube and higher passenger numbers.

Meanwhile, unions are preparing to take industrial action over pay and conditions surrounding the introduction of the all-night service.

The Aslef union, of which the majority of London’s 3,500 Tube drivers are members, voted for industrial action by a massive 97%, while the turnout was 81%.

The National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) is also balloting members.

Risk “off the scale”

Speaking to LondonLovesBusiness.com, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These are shocking figures and make a nonsense of the fact that there has been no serious risk assessment by London Underground of the impact on staff and public safety of shoving thousands of passengers into the Tube system throughout the night over the weekend from September.

“Recent figures have all shown increases in violence, racial and sexual assaults and drunkenness on the Tube, but the mayor is crashing on with his night tube vanity project regardless of the fact that it will heighten the level of risk off the scale. Tube workers, who know the reality of the job, are being ignored and that is why they are angry and preparing to take action.”

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “We believe, as in most cases, that there are far more incidents than arrests than the figures for drunk and disorderly and sexual assaults suggest. The requirement for proper staffing levels on stations and on trains is evidenced by these figures. When are the needs of the travelling public, and railway employees, going to be properly addressed by the privatised train operating companies?”

More police

But London Underground has said that staff working on the extended Tube service will be backed by a larger police service.

Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “Our staff and passengers have the right to work and travel without fear of threat or violence and we work with the police to ensure this. Crime on the Underground is now at its lowest ever level for the ninth consecutive year having decreased by over 12% in the last year alone. Physical assaults against our staff on the network are also down compared to last year. However, the work that we have done to encourage our staff to report any type of assault, including verbal, means that the overall number of incidents has risen.

“When we introduce the Night Tube, all stations will remain staffed and controlled at all times when services are running and our hundreds of staff will be backed by a police presence. We will also continue to work closely with our policing partners, bringing out more than 100 police officers each night to keep people safe and secure as we make this exciting change to London’s metro services.”

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Emotive terms from union bosses as they don't have a logical argument - 'shoving thousand of passengers into tubes'

    Says a lot how you the unions view the people who pay their excessive wages.

    As for a risk of crime, that is not a reason to deign customers a night tube service. The tube is going to be safer than walking the streets back home.

    Lets be honest about this - this is the drivers wanting to back more money out of this!

    Time to automate the tube and get rid of the drivers - it will happen!

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  • 4,772 arrests in 12 years? The Tube carries 1.24bn passengers a year, so that's one D & D arrest per 24 million passengers. That shows that it is in fact a very safe and orderly service.

    However, Tube drivers are right to expect their terms & conditions to be enhanced if they are being asked to work nights.

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  • The New York Subway has operated 24 hours a day for decades and this has had no impact on crime levels. The London Underground is already very safe and its operating through the night will not make it less so. The next stage of reform should be to use driverless trains saving huge amounts of money and eliminating the union problem.

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