Action plan to tackle aggression against public transport staff
Federal and Flemish ministers have launched a plan to tackle aggression on public transport. Their 10-point list includes a bus ban for troublemakers, and they will consider a request for inspectors to wear bodycams.
Verbal and physical violence against public transport staff has long been a problem. Railway operator SNCB received 1,900 reports in 2022 and launched a campaign against aggression at the start of this year, while Flemish public transport company De Lijn recorded 338 acts of physical violence against drivers and inspectors. Arguments about tickets are often at the root of aggression.
Flemish Mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) convened a discussion on Tuesday with federal Interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) and Justive minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD), as well as representatives of the police and public prosecution.
A number of measures in their action plan, such as closed driver cabins in De Lijn buses and recruiting additional inspectors, had been known for some time. Apart from prevention, the focus is also on enforcement and punishment.
One in three cases of violence against public transport staff is dismissed because the offender is not known or there is not enough evidence. “It is therefore important that all facts are reported to the police immediately, accompanied by as much evidence as possible, such as camera footage. It is too often one person’s word against another,” said Van Quickenborne.
Peeters and the transport operators have been calling for cameras not only to record situations that get out of hand but also to aid prevention: arguments are less likely to escalate into violence if it is being filmed.
Verlinden said the issue would be included in a working group but that privacy issues need to be considered.
#FlandersNewsService | A protest by drivers of De Lijn after a case of aggression against a driver in June 2023 in Tienen © BELGA PHOTO INE GILLIS