Latest Rail News

19.08.15

BTP reveals rise in violent and sexual crime despite overall fall

There has been an 8% overall fall in crime on the rail network over the last year, but violent crime and sexual offences have both increased, according to the British Transport Police (BTP). 

In 2014-15, the force recorded a total of 46,688 notifiable crimes, down from more than 50,000 in the preceding 12 months. It is also the 11th consecutive year of reduced crime. 

However, despite launching the high-profile ‘Report It to Stop It’ campaign, aimed at empowering people to report any instances of sexual offences on trains and on the Tube, these crimes are up. 

Figures reveal that in the last year 1,399 sexual offences were recorded across the network, an increase of 25.2% on the 1,117 recorded in 2013-14. 

BTP’s Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock (pictured) said: “The increased reports we received of sexual offences being committed on trains and tubes, revealed by Project Guardian, made it abundantly clear this issue was a significant concern for people yet was considerably underreported. Last year we asked people to tell us about their experiences so we can do more, and that is exactly what they have done. 

DCC-Adrian Hanstock 34B1909“When you consider that 4.5 million passenger journeys were made on the rail network each day in 2014-15, the chances of becoming a victim of crime are minimal – but we are well aware that individual experiences can differ greatly to that wider picture. 

“Members of the public now have a variety of ways to contact us thanks to our text service and since its launch in 2013, more than 17,000 texts have been received from the public. In 2014-15, BTP received 8926 texts – an average of nearly 750 a month.” 

An additional 724 violent crimes were recorded by BTP in 2014-15, taking the total to 9,149, which represents an increase of 8.6%. But BTP say this is much lower than the average rise reported by Home Office forces. 

DCC Hanstock said: “The rise in violent crime is a concern, but is also worth noting, again, that the chances of being a victim of any crime are small. The use of more officers patrolling late-night trains and at peak periods, as well as our extensive CCTV network is helping to halt this rise. 

“What is worrying is that in a disproportionate amount of these offences, it is police officers or railway staff that are the victims of assault, often as a result of their intervention in seemingly ordinary incidents such as non-payment of fares or petty anti-social behaviour.” 

The overall general improvement has been driven, however, with successes including reductions in robbery and fraud offences, both down by 18%, and falls in the theft of passenger property, such as smartphones and tablets, down by 16%. 

“While it is encouraging to compare our current level of performance to last year and note these improvements, the outcome is even more remarkable when you reflect on the progress made over the last 11 years,” said DCC Hanstock. 

“In that time, vehicle and cycle crime has been driven down by 39 per cent, meaning 4,600 fewer offences, while 19,000 fewer people have been the victim of the theft of property, with crimes of this type down 61 per cent.” 

In 2014-15, BTP achieved or exceeded five of its eight national Policing Plan targets, but significantly failed to reduce police-related disruption minutes by at least 6%. It reduced this by only 0.1%. 

It also missed its average days lost through sickness target and narrowly missed its rail staff confidence target. 

Millie Banerjee, chair of the British Transport Police Authority, said: “Whilst some challenges remain, in particular in reducing disruption, I commend the impressive effort by officers and staff in working towards this important objective.”

BTP stat

Responding to the BTP figures, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These horrific statistics, showing that sexual assaults on our railways rose by nearly 25% over the year, expose the shocking complacency of the private train companies who are still pressing ahead with plans to de-staff our stations and remove the safety-critical guards from our trains in line with Government instructions. 

“We note that there has also been a major increase in crimes of violence against the person, including racially-aggravated assaults, which is all consistent with our railways becoming a haven for thugs and racists as staff cuts are bulldozed through.”

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