Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Rise in sexual offences on railways

British Transport Police recorded 1,117 incidents of sexual offences on the railways in the 12 months to March

There has been a big rise in the number of sexual offences on the railways.

There were 1,117 incidents of sexual offences recorded by British Transport Police (BTP) in 2013/14 (the 12 months ending March 2014) - a 20.8% increase on the 925 in 2012/13.

Most of the increase was accounted for by incidents of sexual crime against females, which rose from 485 in 2012/13 to 624 in 2013/14.

Sexual crime against males rose from 27 in 2012/13 to 42 in 2013/14 while cases of exposure increased from 141 to 148, with incidents of other sexual crime going up from 272 to 303.

BTP said the increase in sexual offences was slightly higher than that experienced by police forces nationally.

BTP went on: "Part of this increase can be attributed to the high-profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical offences which have, undoubtedly, given victims more confidence to come forward."

Covering England, Wales and Scotland, the BTP figures showed that overall for 2013/14, notifiable crime, which makes up the more serious offences dealt with by BTP, fell by 5.7% from 53,885 to 50,840 - meaning there were more than 3,000 fewer victims of crime than in 2012/13.

The figures, which included those for London Underground (LU) and the capital's Docklands Light Railway (DLR) , showed that cases of violence against the person rose 3.7% from 8,123 in 2012/13 to 8,425 in 2013/14, with incidents on LU/DLR rising 9.5%, from 1,897 to 2,077.

Incidents involving drugs rose 15.4% - from 3,460 to 3,993 - with LU/DLR drug incidents rocketing 54.5% from 591 to 913.

Motor vehicle and cycle crime as well as public disorder offences rose slightly, but there was a big drop, of 17.0% -from 17,292 to 14,353 - in theft of passenger property and also a drop of 17.7% - from 530 to 436 - in other robbery cases, with theft of railway property dipping nearly 9% from 4,834 to 4,406.

Fraud offences plunged more than 50% from 920 to 457 and incidents of criminal damage fell 4.5% from 3,452 to 3,298.

Speaking about the rise in sexual offences, BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther said the force's Project Guardian had had a significant impact.

He said Project Guardian "focuses on increasing awareness and confidence among the public to report unwanted sexual behaviour to the police or members of staff".

"We are particularly interested in those offences which are often unreported, such as sexual assault, exposure, outraging public decency, lewd comments and harassment."

BTP attributed the dip in theft cases to the success of its Operation Magnum campaign which advises passengers on the most common tactics used by thieves.

BTP also pointed to its efforts in tackling metal and cable theft on the railways.

Michael Roberts, director general of rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Britain's railway has been transformed into Europe's' most improved and fastest-growing network and it's good news for passengers that the overall crime rate has fallen for the 10th successive year.

"The rise in some crimes, however, remains a concern which is why the industry will continue to work closely with the police to prosecute offenders.

"The safety and security of passengers and staff is taken extremely seriously and millions of pounds have been spent funding the BTP, improving CCTV at stations and hiring additional security to keep people safe."

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "These are truly shocking figures which just illustrate the complacency over the safety of the travelling public which is endemic amongst the train companies, the regulators and the politicians.

"The 20% increase in sexual offences on the railways should force an immediate halt to the on-going programme to remove guards from our trains and the Government-endorsed plans to close ticket offices and de-staff stations. Clearly we need more staff in public view, across the network, to deter the criminals and halt this appalling surge in attacks on women."

He went on: "The 10% increase in violence on LU and the DLR should also serve as a wake-up call to London Mayor Boris Johnson who is ploughing ahead with his own plans to remove station and platform staff and close ticket offices.

"The cuts to jobs and services have to be reversed if we are to stop our transport services from descending deeper into the kinds of criminals' paradise that is exposed in these horrific new statistics."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz