Surge in violent crime and sexual offences on the North's railways

A surge in violent and sexual offences has driven a 5.38 per cent rise in crime recorded on the North's railways in the last year, new figures show.
A surge in violent and sexual offences has driven a 5.38 per cent rise in crime recorded on the North's railways in the last year, new figures show.
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A surge in violent and sexual offences has driven a 5.38 per cent rise in crime recorded on the North's railways in the last year, new figures show.

A total of 9113 crimes were recorded by British Transport Police (BTP) in 2018/19, up from 8647 during the previous 12 months.

Violent crime accounted for almost a quarter (20 per cent) of all cases after increasing by 10.43 per cent year-on-year to 1832.

Sexual offences rose by 13.36 per cent over the same period to 1,832.

BTP said that across the country there was fewer than one serious crime per million passenger journeys in 2018/2019, with some 68,313 crimes recorded.

Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said the force anticipated there could be a rise in overall crime as passenger numbers grew.

He said: "Despite this increase, when put into context it is important to remember that the chance of becoming a victim of crime on the railway is very low.

"We now police more than 3.3 billion journeys each year, the equivalent of a third of the world's population passing through our jurisdiction.

"Of course, any rise in crime is of concern to us and we are tackling this head on through our problem-solving initiatives at key locations."

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BTP said preventing serious violence and knife crime remains one of its key priorities.

Half of all recorded knife crimes on the railway were a result of proactive action by officers which resulted in weapons and other prohibited items being seized.

Mr Hanstock said: "Nationwide, our patrols and high-profile operations have included a number of overt and covert tactics to tackle knife crime.

"By using knife arches and stop and search powers in a controlled way, we've been able to seize weapons before they're used to potentially take a life.

"Fortunately, assaults involving a weapon on the railway are extremely rare, and these decisive steps are part of our commitment to keeping our railways safe."

Across the North, the crime figures also show year-on-year rises for reports of robbery (up 45 per cent), drug crime (up 34 per cent) and public disorder (up seven per cent).

Susie Homan, director of planning, engineering and operations at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "With 20 crimes per million passenger journeys recorded in 2018/19, Britain's railway remains one of the safest in the world.

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"As an industry we are working with the BTP to return to a long-term trend of falling crime on the railway, by trialling and investing in new technology like body worn cameras for staff and working with police to increase the reporting of crime."

During 2018/2019, BTP also saw a large increase in demand in relation to vulnerable people; both in terms of suicide prevention and supporting those experiencing mental health issues.

Over the course of the year, BTP saw a 32 per cent increase in the number of lifesaving interventions by police and members of rail staff.

Mr Hanstock said: “It is troubling that the railway still attracts those in mental health crisis; officers and rail staff work incredibly hard to safeguard those with vulnerabilities and help them access the most appropriate care and support.

"I am immensely proud of what they each do every day to protect people experiencing crisis in their lives.

"Remarkably, 2,529 lives were saved as a result of their compassionate intervention."