Transport police have promised Londoners a safe journey home when the capital’s much delayed Night Tube service finally launches on the Central and Victoria lines this weekend.
The service, originally due to start last year, is expected to provide a significant boost to the economy by making it quicker and easier for Londoners to get home after enjoying the city’s night life.
Offering a 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays, the Night Tube will be expanded to the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines this autumn.
Key to its success will be passengers’ sense of security, so Transport for London is providing British Transport Police with an additional £3.4m in funding to ensure stations and trains have a visible policing presence.
Superintendent Chris Horton told MayorWatch that the extra cash will allow BTP to provide a guaranteed minimum of 100 officers, backed up by community support officers and existing emergency response teams, by the time the full five line service is up and running.
For the opening weekend Horton says “close to a hundred officers” will be deployed to ensure the Tube’s record as “a very low crime environment” is preserved and that Londoners feel “confident to use the system”.
He commented: “We already police the night time economy every weekend and have done for years in London
“I’m not expecting a significant change in the business that we do, I think what we’re determined to do is ensure that not only are people safe but that they feel safe.”
Although some officers will be “routinely carrying Taser,” Superintendent Horton stressed that passengers will not normally see more heavily armed officers “proactively patrolling,” although the force does have an armed capability which can be rapidly deployed to provide back-up where needed.
Officers have been drawn from BTP’s existing neighbourhood policing teams and will work across a number of shifts, rather than being “an army of cops who just come out for Night Tube”.
Horton says the force worked closely with colleagues in the Met and City of London police to ensure that any crime or nuisance isn’t pushed from the Night Tube onto other transport modes or hubs.
The precise number of officers at each location across the network will be reviewed over the coming weeks and months to ensure that resources are appropriately deployed.
Supt. Horton said his officers would “police the Night Tube in the spirit in which is it intended, it’s a fantastic thing for London and we want to make it as safe and enjoyable experience as possible.
“The challenge for us is making sure you’re not more likely to be a victim of crime during the Night Tube than you are any other time of the day using the system.”
In addition to the BTP presence, each station will be staffed by London Underground workers and the network will be monitored by more than 12,000 CCTV cameras.
Mark Wild, LU’s Managing Director, told this site that staffing levels had been “carefully designed” and that each station would be “appropriately staffed” to cope with expected passenger numbers.
He added that managers had the flexibility to boost staff numbers if needed and said “people should be very confident” about using the new night service.