There’s been outcry across the job since it emerged yesterday that plain-clothes British Transport Police officers had been conducting a covert spying operation on station staff at Piccadilly Circus.
The operation consisted of the officers posing as fare dodgers and committing acts of antisocial behaviour in order, apparently to “gauge staff reaction”.
Although the local Area Manager claims not to have known about the operation in advance, he was briefed by the BTP afterwards. He did not notify staff however, and only admitted his involvement when challenged by union reps.
It appears that, in response to rising crime and staff assaults, BTP decided to surveil Piccadilly Circus... but found “no crime” but rather “poor customer service”.
This is an outrageous act of victim-blaming. The company is telling us we’re to blame for antisocial behaviour incidents in our station, and for our own assaults. Now our bosses appear to be colluding with covert police operations in an underhanded attempt to “prove” this calumny.
If there are indeed problems with customer service at any of our stations, then the cause is years of staffing cuts which have left stations chronically shorthanded and staff run ragged. The solution is to increase the staffing level, not to spy on staff.
An Employee Bulletin from LU Managing Director Mark Wild has rubbed considerable salt into the wounds by claiming that the operation only consisted of one BTP officer, acting alone and spontaneously, deciding to double-gate to see if staff would react.
This ludicrous spin is completely contradicted by the AM’s account, which makes clear something far more substantial has taken place.
LU is currently pressuring station staff to put ourselves in harm’s way by “encouraging” passengers who present at exit gates with a Code 36 (insufficient funds) to go to the POMs to top up. This has already been the cause of at least one staff assault. Undoubtedly the member of staff in question will have been to blame, according to LU and the BTP’s warped worldview!
Complaints have gone in to the company and the BTP. If commitments aren’t forthcoming that this practise will never be repeated, and that LU will support us, rather than blame us, when we get assaulted, we should stop the job. We don’t come to work to get spied on by the cops.