ATTACKS on rail staff in Ellesmere Port and across the North West have risen by more than 10%.
There were 209 assaults on railway employees in 2006/07, compared to 188 the previous year.
But British Transport Police say this is mainly down to them encouraging staff to report more incidents.
Officers in the region have a high conviction rate of 51% for these type of offences.
BTP spokesman Jon Ratcliffe said: ‘Assaults and attacks on staff can range from verbally abusing them or spitting right up to a serious violent assault.
‘We are encouraging rail staff to report more incidents which happen to them, hence the rise, and we expect this trend to continue.’
Rail staff are now equipped with spit kits so if they are spat at they can collect a sample with a swab, and send it to a laboratory for DNA analysis.
This evidence has proved successful in prosecuting many cases, including one in Ellesmere Port.
‘A Merseyrail train guard had asked a group of youths for their ticket.
‘They didn’t have one. Then one of the youths, a boy aged 16, pushed the guard and spat in his face.
‘The youth pleaded guilty to assault and was given a nine-month supervision order and a curfew for three months,’ explained Mr Ratcliffe.
He said there was only one other recorded offence in Ellesmere Port during 2006/07.
‘Someone activated the door release, causing the train to stop, just as it was driving out of the station.
‘Staff saw a group of children and one of them threw a bottle at him.
‘It hit the employee on the hand but he did not want to pursue a complaint,’ explained Mr Ratcliffe.
He added that while there was this rise in assault cases, other crimes, including general anti-social behaviour on the rail network, were down.
Nationally, there were more than 3,000 assaults on rail staff in 2006/07 – a rise of 8% from the previous year – according to the BTP’s annual report.
Anyone with information about crimes on the railway can call BTP’s freephone number on 0800 405040.