Significant rise in violent and sexual crimes on our region’s railways despite overall reduction in offences

BTP are reporting a drop in crime over the past year in our region
BTP are reporting a drop in crime over the past year in our region

Railways across the midlands are safer than ever according to British Transport Police as recorded fell crime for the 11th year in a row, but there have been rises in violent and sexual crimes

In the Force’s Midland sub division crime is down by 2.5%, with 4,087 notifiable offences recorded during the entire year. This means that there were more than 100 fewer victims of crime across the midlands than in the previous year.

Superintendent Allan Gregory, Sub Divisional Commander for British Transport Police said: “The railway in our region is safer than ever before, with just 11 crimes occurring each day across the whole of the midlands – a patch of England which stretches from Peterborough to Wolverhampton and Lincoln to Milton Keynes.

“I am particularly pleased to see a reduction in robberies (11 per cent) meaning that there are now fewer people falling victim to some of the most serious and intimidating offences.

“Across the midlands we have also recorded significant reductions in cable theft – a crime which, at its worst, can cause countless delays and cancellations across the rail network as thieves target those cables which are vital in keeping the railway operational.

“During 2014/15 there was a 70 per cent drop in cable theft offences, which is not only testament to changing legislation, but also to the hard work and dedication of officers who continue to make life difficult for those who seek to cause misery and disruption for the travelling public.”

Not all crime has reduced and Midland sub division recorded notable increases in violent (17.4 per cent) and sexual (11.1 per cent) offences.

Supt Gregory said: “We fully expected to see an increase in recorded sexual offences as British Transport Police has taken a stand against offences of this nature and, earlier this year, launched Report It To Stop It – a campaign designed to encourage rail passengers and staff to report every instance of unwanted sexual behaviour.

“Our belief, which is supported by academic research, is that a significant number of sexual offences go unreported, meaning offenders go unpunished. We are challenging this position and, alongside partner organisations such as other police forces, local authorities and train companies, are working hard to not only encourage people to report offences, but also to take firm action against offenders.

“With Report It To Stop It in place, we fully expected to record a rise in sexual offences and, though it is a concern that so many people are affected by this type of crime, it is pleasing that more and more people seem to have the confidence to report such matters to BTP.

“The rise in violent crime is a concern as we are committed to driving violence and intimidating behaviour from the railway. It should be noted, however, that during the past year, nationally, there has been a renewed police focus on the quality of recording and a greater willingness from victims to come forward.

“We now put more officers on late evening and night trains to reassure passengers and deter problematic behaviour and we work with our partners to fully utilise the CCTV systems available to us and the rail companies.

“This enables us to better identify those intent on causing problems and subsequently take action against them to prevent further issues in the future. We are now also in the process of enhancing this coverage by carrying out a trial of body worn cameras in a number of cities across the country – including Birmingham.”

Supt Gregory added: “It should be noted, however, that the number of crimes recorded for both sexual and violence offences remain relatively low with fewer than two violence offences happening each day across the whole region and only one sexual offence recorded every four-and-a-half days.”

Despite the overall reduction in crime, and the seeming increase in public confidence, British Transport Police understands there is more work to be done and, during the coming 12 months, will be focussing on further increasing the confidence those who travel and work on the railway have in BTP.

Just a few months ago BTP launched ‘You Said, We Did’ a fresh look at ways in which the Force can give more power to passengers and staff in directing the activity of local officers.

Supt Gregory said: “Last autumn we carried out our first large-scale public consultation, which gave the public the chance to tell us what mattered to them and what they wanted us to focus on.

“We received more than 6,000 responses and have been able to collate those to build a plan of action that, we hope, will help improve public confidence in using the rail network.”

Across the midlands the top three priorities of those who responded were:

• To tackle anti-social behaviour

• Be more visible on late-night train services

• Be more visible in general

Supt Gregory added: “You Said, We Did is a long-term commitment from BTP to work with the travelling public to make the railway an even safer place and to build confidence.

“We want to make sure we are putting our resource in the right places and at the right times and the survey last year represents a good start.

“But it is just that, a start, and we need everyone who uses trains to keep telling us about problems and concerns relating to services and stations.

“Only by working together can BTP, rail companies and the public look to the future and devise and implement lasting solutions to the problems we all face.”