Jump in violence and sexual offences fuels rise in crime on railways

More than 60,000 crimes recorded on network, with offences involving knives or other weapons rising by 46 per cent

Friday 05 October 2018 00:01 BST
Police insist chances of becoming a victim of crime on transport system ‘remain low’
Police insist chances of becoming a victim of crime on transport system ‘remain low’

A jump in violent and sexual offences on Britain’s railways has fuelled a 17 per cent increase in crimes at stations and on trains, figures show.

British Transport Police (BTP) recorded 61,159 crimes in the year 2017-18, up from 52,235 during the previous 12 months.

Violent crime accounted for nearly one in five of all cases after rising by 26 per cent to 11,711 during the period.

Offences involving knives or other weapons went up by 46 per cent to 206, while robbery jumped by 53 per cent to 553 cases.

Sexual offences increased by 16 per cent to 2,472, and the force believes “there are still many more crimes of this type that go unreported”.

Just this week, a man was stabbed at a London Overground station during rush hour.

BTP chief constable Paul Crowther said: “The chances of becoming a victim of crime on the rail network remains low.

“However, after a long period of steady decreases, both crimes per million passenger journeys and notifiable offences have increased.”

Notifiable offences are those that police must report to the Home Office for official statistics to be recorded.

Nineteen crimes were recorded per million passenger journeys.

The statistics for the transport network mirror the wider national picture.

Police forces in England and Wales registered nearly 1.4 million offences in the “violence against the person” category in 2017-18 – a rise of nearly a fifth on the previous year.

Transport police figures also show other crimes increasing on the rail network, including throwing missiles at trains (up 35 per cent to 316), arson (up 93 per cent to 143), live cable theft (up 86 per cent to 158) and theft from vending machines (up 21 per cent to 240).

More people than ever before are trespassing on the tracks, accounting for 43 per cent of disruption to trains, against 38 per cent last year.

The force said the increase in the total number of crimes is partly due to improvements in how crime is recorded, which has increased accuracy and given victims and witnesses “more confidence to report crime”.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The nature of some crimes is changing, and as part of our long-term plan to change and improve, we are investing in new technology and innovations to make our railway even safer for our staff and customers.”

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