British Transport Police halt plans to scrap sexual offences unit

Reports of sexual offences on the Tube were up 52 per cent from 2014 to 2015

Chloe Farand
Saturday 02 April 2016 12:08
Reports of sexual offences in the Tube are on the rise
Reports of sexual offences in the Tube are on the rise

British Transport Police (BTP) have reversed their decision to scrap their London sexual offences unit, after large criticisms over the plans.

The specialist crime squad was created to tackle a rise in unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport but plans to axe the service were announced just before the Easter holidays as part of a structural review of the BTP.

There were a total of 1,603 reports of sex offences on the Tube, trains and buses in London between April and September 2015, compared with 1,117 for the same period the previous year, according to figures published by Transport for London (TFL).

Reports of sexual offences on the London Underground have increased to 427 between April and September 2015, up from 301 for the same period the previous year,

They rose 52 per cent from 2014 to 2015.

Mark Newton, the BTP's assistant chief constable, who previously defended plans to merge the sexual crime squad with the wider crime investigation unit, said the BTP had "listened carefully" to criticisms over the decision.

“This concern undermines everything we are trying to achieve," he said.

"We are proud to have always been seen to be at the forefront in tackling unwanted sexual behaviour. Our commitment to the victims of sexual offences remains unabated."

Mr Newton praised the BTP's campaign Report it to Stop it, which encourages public transport users to report any incidents of unwanted sexual behaviour, and he welcomed victims' "courage" in reporting the offences.

“We now want to build on that trust and ensure that we not only deal effectively with each and every case that is reported to us, but that we also look at ways to prevent the offences from happening in the first place.

“Through our crime review we are committed to ensuring that more of our officers have the skills to support vulnerable victims and are given specialist training to target and prosecute offenders."

The BTP continues to work with TFL and the Met Police to reduce the number of sexual assaults.