Public transportation security: a concern for all
Public transportation and convenience go hand-in-hand. However, users too often associate this service with the numerous attacks committed against both employees and passengers. To these regrettable acts, we can also add property damage, acts of incivility, increased harassment and even strikes which flood the news relating to these networks.
In 1998, there were 520 RATP agents attacked. Twenty years later, there were no fewer than 6,470 complaints filed, with a peak of 7,115 reports of violence in 2012.
Spotlight on mediation
To overcome these problems, transportation companies tend to rely on mediation. Indeed, they use mediation service providers or mediation employees in order to:
- Ask users about possible problems through various surveys. Soliciting the opinions of people waiting for their connections allows them to identify needs, whether equipment or welfare-related, and to improve the quality of service. It’s a significant amount of up-front work, but it allows them to stay connected to users without holding them back.
- Ensure the presence of employees among passengers. The public can, as such, feel reassured by the presence of employees who are more or less qualified to defuse conflict situations and inform the public of delays. Unfortunately, the expected results have not been realized due to a failure in the process of relaying information to users who are the most affected by these situations.
Security officers, the real proof of intervention
Parisian transportation agencies such as the RATP and the SNCF have their own security officers who have the right to carry arms. Their role consists of ensuring protection, deterrence, aid and intervention for the benefit of employees and customers.
There is also a reinforced communication towards the the transport companies’s employees. And security agents as drivers must meet the same obligations. Remind the rules of etiquette, display advertisements reminding the basic rules of courtesy (say “hello”, “please”) helps to establish a climate of benevolence. And it also represents a mediation and reconciliation between users and transport professionals.
Keolis, a tranpsort company, has commissioned a Ke’Op application since November 2018 that allows users to alert malicious acts or in case of aggression. Far from being reported, this device makes it easier for users to alert officers if they are witnessing a situation of risk and agents to mobilize more quickly at the scene of an intervention.
Is video surveillance the key to security?
The RATP is investing nearly 100 million euros for 50,000 surveillance cameras to be placed on platforms and in train stations. 15,000 are stationary cameras, and 35,000 are on board trains. The RATP, in fact, prefers the on-board cameras for ensuring security and avoiding misconduct. Security agents will now be required to wear body cameras as part of the Savary law passed in 2016. It’s a test that will be completed by the end of 2019, and will then roll out on all French transportation networks (rail and road). Of course, agents will be trained regarding their use. We have high expectations for this test:
“This new device has both the preventative purpose of dissuading perpetrators from violence against RATP agents and enforcing the law through images which allow for the gathering of irrefutable evidence on the intercession’s sequence of events”, explained the RATP.
Police tracking to some, long-awaited restrictive measures implemented far too late for others, this initiative is obviously up for debate in today’s environment, and is a sensitive issue with respect to individual freedoms and the privacy of personal data. Time will tell if its primary objective of reducing the number of attacks will be achieved.