The 'shocking' number of thefts, sex assaults and attacks on Yorkshire rail networks revealed in new data

Leeds railway station. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Leeds railway station. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Almost half of all crimes reported on the railway network in Yorkshire last year have gone unsolved, exclusive new data reveals.

Dent Station is for sale and it's a dream home for rail enthusiasts
Nine times out of 10, thieves are getting away with their crimes on railways across Britain, while half of sexual offences on the network have no suspects identified, figures obtained from British Transport Police shows.

While many of the 66,311 offences reported last year were of theft, crimes also included sexual assaults, racially-aggravated attacks and possession of firearms.

Across Britain, nearly half (49 per cent) of sexual offences went unsolved last year, including eight rapes. Violent crime has been soaring on the railways, with such offences up 49 per cent in the two years to 2018.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, 3,465 offences were reported in the network in 2018, but in 1,772 of cases - again 49 per cent - no suspect has been identified. It compares to 59 per cent of cases in Britain where suspects have not been identified or go “undetected”.

These six Yorkshire railway stations will get better access for disabled passengers by 2024
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers General Secretary Mick Cash said the "shocking statistics" were “a reflection of the under resourcing of the BTP and the drive to axe train and platform staff. The solution is investment in staffing and security and a zero tolerance approach that brings to book all those who think they can turn the railway into a criminal’s playground.”

Diana Fawcett, chief officer of independent charity Victim Support, said: “This news has the potential to undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system and could deter people from coming forward to report a crime in the future. It’s important though that victims understand that they can access our support without reporting to the police.”

In Northern Ireland, where railways are policed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the number of crimes on the rail network was far lower than in any other UK region, with just 180 crimes logged last year.

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith from British Transport Police said crime on the railways remains “incredibly low”, with less than one journey in a million involving any kind of violence.

He said the force conducts “a great number of highly visible as well as plain clothes patrols to identify pickpockets, or those exploiting the crowded network to commit sexual offences”.

He said: “Fortunately, the majority of crimes reported to BTP result in no injury coming to a victim, such as theft, common assault or vandalism.”

Assistant Chief Con Smith said the force was “completely committed to reducing and preventing crime”.