Passengers on buses and trams will be forced to pledge not to racially abuse fellow travellers in order to use free wi-fi services, under new plans to prevent hate crime.
A charter is being drawn up in an effort to encourage “responsible and courteous passenger behaviour”, with passengers asked to agree to report any abusive behaviour based on race or religion to the police before being able to log on while travelling.
Bus, tram and train operators running services in Edinburgh will be asked to support the charter, as well as the capital’s cab companies.
The charter, outlining the kinds of bigoted behaviour that will not be tolerated, will be placed on “prominent display” on trains and buses, as well as stations and shelters throughout the city.
A series of high-profile incidents of racial abuse on trains and buses have been captured on film in recent years, as more and more travellers carry smart phones with them.
Councillor Cammy Day said the council’s hate crime working group had raised issue of hate crime on buses and trains, leading to the idea of a Transport Charter to tackle the problem.
He said: “One of the things that’s hopefully going to happen is when you get on Lothian Buses and sign up on their wi-fi you will have to tick a box saying you accept the content of the Transport Charter that says there should be no hate crime on buses.”
“You would need to agree to that before you get your wi-fi.”
He said the council would also work with Police Scotland to ensure there was an adequate reporting system, including more remote reporting and reporting at bus and rail stations, as well as the possibility of a dedicated transport liaison official.
Tony Kenmuir, director of cab firm Central Taxis, said the move would be widely supported in the taxi trade.
Mr Kenmuir said: “It’s well- documented that there are a large number of minority drivers working in the taxi trade, and they’re a very important part of it.
“They’re just out making an honest living, and they need to be safe and protected as they can be. I’m entirely supportive of this, and anything we can do to contribute, we will.”
A final draft of the charter, drawn up with the help of Lothian Buses, the Edinburgh and Lothian Regional Equality Council, Network Rail and the Coalition for Racial Equality, will be agreed by councillors in June, when details regarding publicity and promotion will also be decided.
The charter would be reviewed every two years.
Train racist punished over slurs
Last year, West Lothian investment banker Neil Docherty, 43, admitted racially abusing a woman on a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh on August 28. Mr Docherty, pictured, shouted and swore at Fella Hammach, 33, and slapped her on the head from behind. As the train pulled in to Linlithgow station at around 11pm, he was overheard shouting at her: “Go back to your own country. Muslim men are raping women.”
Despite a fellow passenger attempting to intervene, he continued: “It’ll be a different story when they take over the world and you’re all wearing burkhas.”
Mr Docherty surrendered to police after a photo taken by another passenger was circulated. He was put under supervision for nine months, and was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work and given a four-month curfew.