Over the past year, we have taken various measures that should help us maintain and if possible further improve personal safety. One example is the social distancing measures taken in 2020, such as required walking routes at the stations and inside shops. We also installed cameras and deployed Safety & Service staff and private security guards at stations where passengers feel unsafe and where crime and nuisance are a reality. Due to the COVID-19 measures and the drop in passenger numbers, the presence of tramps, loitering youths etc. was more conspicuous than usual. This was reflected, for example, in the willingness among our staff to report incidents. We continuously monitor nuisance levels and address issues where necessary. Creating an open and proactive safety culture requires a permanent effort from NS. We have made agreements with local safety partners to combat nuisance.
Incidents involving aggression
Incidents involving aggression have a considerable impact on the lives of the people who witness them. That is why NS encourages staff to report all such incidents. Within NS as a whole, 661 incidents of category A aggression (the most serious type) against staff were reported in the past year, which is 2.5% less than in 2019 ( 678). Many incidents involved some form of threat (231), and 158 qualified as ‘resisting a public servant’. There were also cases of physical violence (158), spitting (102), threatening with a weapon (9) and indecent assault (3).
Despite the smaller number of passengers, no significant drop in the number of incidents has been reported for the year as whole. This may be attributed to the return to the full timetable on 1 June, with an increase in visible staff and active enforcement of COVID-19 measures and the obligatory wearing of face-masks. Since 1 June, NS also registers whether an incident can be linked to COVID-19 measures. This was the case for 83 category A incidents. Of our uniformed staff, 714 were involved in some form of physical aggression (2019: 744).
The number of category A incidents involving aggression on our trains dropped by 18.6%: 197 in 2020 compared with 242 in the same period in 2019. The number of incidents in this category at the stations increased by 7.2% (to 461, compared with 430 in 2019). At stations it is easier to respond to incidents. Support from Safety & Service staff, the police and/or emergency services can arrive on site sooner than on a moving train.
The number of injuries increased by 1.8%: in 2020, 171 injuries as a result of aggression against staff were recorded (2019: 168). These were mostly minor injuries (88.3%). In 162 cases, this involved uniformed NS staff (2019: 153 cases), of whom 119 were Safety & Service staff.