Police target loutish behaviour on trains

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The Independent Online

Protecting rail users from loutish behaviour will be the top priority of officers over the next year, the head of British Transport Police (BTP) said today.

Chief Constable Andrew Trotter said he wants commuters and leisure travellers to feel safe wherever they are on the train network.

The senior officer said shift changes will mean more officers than ever before will be on duty between the peak hours for trouble of 8pm and 2am.

He said talks are under way with rail operators to improve lighting and to make car parks safer with innovative schemes.

Speaking as the force unveiled its policing plan, Mr Trotter said crime continues to fall on the rail network but people do not necessarily feel safer.

He said: "Being safe and feeling safe are equally important - which is why we are focusing our efforts on putting more police out on patrol on the rail network in the evenings and at night.

"It's important for us to listen to people's concerns and be responsive to them, and we know that people are more concerned about travelling at night.

"Research from Passenger Focus shows that young men under 26 are most concerned, which is understandable as they are the most likely to be assault victims.

"We need to be out there protecting them and reassuring all passengers that the railways really are a very safe environment.

"By putting more police on patrol in the evenings, we are aiming to address some of those anxieties and boost passenger confidence."

A total of 4,270 people were caught behaving anti-socially on the rail network between 8pm and 2am during the last year.

A further 754 troublemakers linked to football were caught by BTP officers, a rise of almost 50% on the previous year.

New police figures revealed recorded crime on Britain's railways fell by 7.3%, with violent crime down 7% and robberies down 22%.

The force recorded successes across the board, except for sexual offences which rose by seven offences (0.7%).

Transport minister Theresa Villiers said neither the police nor the Government are "complacent" about crime on the railways.

She said: "Rail passengers and those working on stations and trains rightly expect to be able to travel safely and securely and we will work hard with BTP to continue to make rail travel safer travel for everyone."

Michael Roberts, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "It is good news for passengers that the crime rate on Britain's railways continues to get ever lower.