How customer service assistants are the eyes and ears in our stations

Published 9 April 2019 | Average read time
2 min read
Stories Railway safety

Security checks in our stations have long been part of a customer service assistant’s role, but within the past year there has been a greater emphasis on monitoring passengers’ behaviour and unattended items.

Our review of how we manage security follows discussions with industry partners including the Department for Transport and British Transport Police.

If we see anyone acting suspiciously or if we see someone sitting around longer than we think they should do, we approach them. We’re more proactive in approaching people, asking them if they have any concerns or challenging their behaviour.

Dave, Network Rail customer service assistant at Leeds station

Just days after the London Bridge attack on 3 June 2017, Dave, a customer service assistant at Leeds station, was called to platform 9 where a woman had been asked to look after two bags for another passenger. After 20 minutes, the man hadn’t returned and Dave conducted a HOT check (see box).

People don’t always think about their actions and it’s a serious concern.

We have CCTV in place, which is incredibly helpful, but the human presence is a huge part in security. My eyes and my radio are among the most powerful tools that I have for this job.

Dave, customer service assistant

Station staff follow the HOT protocol when there is a report of an unattended item:

Has a deliberate attempt been made to HIDE the item?
Does the item have OBVIOUS suspicious characteristics?
Is the item TYPICAL of what you would expect to find in this type of location?

Security and customer service go hand in hand. We encourage colleagues to proactively engage with customers – it means customers know they may be spoken to, which is a deterrent to those who are doing things they shouldn’t be. Also, if customers are welcomed they might feel comfortable enough to come back and report something.

There’s nothing to suggest that the railway is specifically a target for an attack but clearly we have to be alert. Immediately after last year’s attacks in Britain, security was reviewed and increased in a number of stations.

Jason Manley, stations operations specialist, Network Rail

If you are in a station and see any unusual items or activity, tell station staff. You can also text the British Transport Police on 61016 to report crime or incidents discreetly, or call 0800 40 50 40.

What do customer service assistants in our stations do?

Find out more