Mind the gap. And the camera phone.

More evidence of the power of citizen journalism and social media in action this week, as the TfL worker filmed by a member of the public verbally abusing a commuter public, resigns.

A mass Twitter campaign calling for the worker’s dismissal was sparked off after the video of a tube guard at Holborn tube station allegedly abusing an elderly passenger, saying “sling him under a train” was posted online. The incident was filmed by fellow passgenger, Jonathan MacDonald, who then posted the video online and blogged about the incident prompting other Twitter users, including Boris Johnson (!) to comment: “Appalled by the video. Have asked TfL to investigate urgently. Abuse by passengers or staff is never acceptable,” he tweeted.

Then, fast work by the TfL press office, as shortly after they issued the following statement: “We are appalled by the scene captured in this video and will investigate thoroughly and urgently what took place and what led to it. We do not tolerate members of the public being abusive to our staff but neither will we tolerate members of our staff abusing members of the public.”

The staff member known only as ‘Ian’, was then suspended pending further investigation. The incident began when an elderly member of the public approached ‘Ian’ to complain that his arm had become trapped in a door for a few seconds as he tried to get off a train. MacDonald said that the “timid and quiet” man raised his complaint in a calm manner, but that ‘the TfL employee became infuriated that he would not step away from the edge of the platform as the next train approached, and demanded that he come see the police upstairs’.

When the elderly man ignored his request not to board the train, the staff member laid into him – all of which can be clearly seen and heard on the video posetd by MacDonald, who said “I just felt absolutely amazed that swear words and abuse would be levelled at somebody in such a way. I was shocked, stunned and appalled,”.

Of course it’s great that today this kind of thing can be brought to light so easily and to such effect by a member of the public. But, on the other hand, what of the victim? One wonders how he must feel at being revealed to have been in such a situation, vilified? Possibly. But also a tad embarrased? Probably. And what of the treatment of the tube worker – okay he massively over-stepped the mark, but did he deserve to be at the hands of the ‘virtual lynch mob’ as one newspaper put it? What do you think?

Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd

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