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Crime on Britain’s railways drops for 11th straight year

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British Transport Police (BTP) has welcomed another year of successful policing on the railways with a new report detailing an 11th consecutive year of reduced crime and increased safety for the travelling public.

The annual statistical bulletin also shows that:

• During 2014/15, BTP recorded an 8.2 per cent drop in offences

• Theft of passenger property decreased by 16 per cent

• Violent crime and sexual offences both up

Today (Wednesday, 19 August), BTP, the dedicated police force for trains and tubes across England, Scotland and Wales, announced figures showing an overall drop in crime of more than eight per cent compared with the previous year.

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said: “I am delighted to be able to say that crime on Britain’s railways has fallen for the 11th year in a row; a remarkable achievement which reflects the excellent work, day-in day-out, of the officers and staff of British Transport Police.

“We pride ourselves on our specialist knowledge and experience of the railway environment, as well as our close relationships with rail companies and local forces, which puts us in a unique position to meet passengers’ needs and keep people safe.

“BTP is always looking to pioneer new and inventive ways of confronting crime – whether that’s through the use of evidence-based policing, the work of our specialist mental health team, the introduction of body-worn video for patrol officers, or the growing use of our 61016 text message service.”

In 2014/15, the force recorded a total of 46,688 notifiable crimes, down from more than 50,000 in the preceding 12 months. The improved performance is thanks, in part, to major successes in a number of key areas – including effective targeting of robbery and fraud offences, both down by 18 per cent, and reductions in the theft of passenger property, such as smartphones and tablets, down by 16 per cent.

In 2015, in conjunction with key partners, BTP launched ‘Report It to Stop It’, a high-profile campaign aimed at empowering people to report any instances of sexual offences on trains and tubes. This initiative builds on the approach and success of the previous London-focused ‘Project Guardian’ and is already yielding results.

Earlier this year, a 31-year-old man was jailed for 12 months for sexually assaulting two schoolgirls outside Sheffield station, following a BTP investigation. The same month, a 44-year-old man who was already banned from sitting next to women on public transport was sentenced to 15 months in prison after an incident on a Bristol to Taunton train.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock added: “The increased reports we received of sexual offences being committed on trains and tubes, revealed by Project Guardian, made it abundantly clear this issue was a significant concern for people yet was considerably underreported. Last year we asked people to tell us about their experiences so we can do more, and that is exactly what they have done.

“When you consider that 4.5 million passenger journeys were made on the rail network each day in 2014/15, the chances of becoming a victim of crime are minimal – but we are well aware that individual experiences can differ greatly to that wider picture.

“Members of the public now have a variety of ways to contact us thanks to our text service and since its launch in 2013, more than 17,000 texts have been received from the public. In 2014/15, BTP received 8926 texts – an average of nearly 750 a month.

“A great example of the effectiveness of our text service came earlier this year. A woman who had previously reported being the victim of a sexual offence on a train noticed her offender a few weeks later and sent a text us to make us aware the same man was on her train. She was able to give us a really helpful description of the suspect and direct us to his location. Just 20 minutes after the woman contacted us, two police officers boarded the train and one arrested the suspect while the other spoke to the victim. He is now due to appear at crown court.”

There is still much more for the force to tackle however, as not all categories of crime have experienced a fall. An additional 724 violent crimes were recorded by BTP in 2014/15, which represents a rise of eight per cent, albeit this is much lower than the average rise reported by Home Office forces. The majority of cases were lesser types of assault involving pushing and shoving rather than those resulting in more serious injuries.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock said: “The rise in violent crime is a concern, but is also worth noting, again, that the chances of being a victim of any crime are small. The use of more officers patrolling late-night trains and at peak periods, as well as our extensive CCTV network is helping to halt this rise. What is worrying is that in a disproportionate amount of these offences, it is police officers or railway staff that are the victims of assault, often as a result of their intervention in seemingly ordinary incidents such as non-payment of fares or petty anti-social behaviour.”

Despite this increase in minor assaults, significant progress has been made in response to robbery offences as BTP continues to drive down some of the most serious offences on the railway. A total of 358 robbery offences were recorded across England, Scotland and Wales in 2014/15, a drop of 18 per cent compared to the 436 in 2013/14.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock commented: “Robbery has a profound impact on victims due to the associated fear of violence and theft of their personal items, and we have been doing everything in our power to make sure this is not something people have to worry about on their journeys. In the context of the total number of crimes committed on the railway, robbery is thankfully very rare – although this has not always been the case.

“Robbery has fallen by 86 per cent during the past 11 years meaning there is now less than one incident per day across Britain, down from more than six offences per day in 2003/04.”

A similar success has been the continued progress of BTP’s Operation Magnum, a public awareness campaign designed to advise passengers on the most common tactics used by thieves, including pickpockets, and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Theft of passenger property such as bags, smartphones or other devices on trains and at stations fell by 16 per cent compared to 2013/14, with 2,314 fewer recorded offences, with similar decreases across each of BTP’s regional divisions.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock said: “Everyone has the right to travel on the railway without being concerned about their possessions being stolen, which is more important than ever given the number of devices and gadgets many people routinely carry with them on their journeys.

“Through Operation Magnum, and our well-publicised ‘tactics’ videos, we have demonstrated the ways in which thieves try to exploit the railway, in turn making people more vigilant and restricting opportunities for criminals. We have done significant work in making people aware of distraction and diversion techniques that people use in enclosed, busy locations on trains and at stations. A lot of operational work is also underway, such as the large-scale dawn raids by officers in west London in September when 13 people were arrested and 1,000 smartphones were seized.

“This latest reduction shows that the public have taken notice of the campaign, and reinforces our message – for anyone hoping to carry out a crime, the railway simply isn’t the place to do it.”

BTP has set itself long-term targets around reducing both crime and disruption, while increasing passenger confidence. Findings from the latest National Rail Passenger Survey, which measures rail user satisfaction, shows passenger confidence is currently at more than 77.75 per cent, above the force’s target. A significant element of increasing passenger satisfaction lies in BTP’s successful management of disruption incidents, and the safeguarding of vulnerable people.

Included in the Force’s 2014/15 annual report are details of the work carried out by British Transport Police to protect and support vulnerable people on the railway.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock added: “For some people, our officers can be the difference between life and death. In conjunction with Network Rail and The Samaritans we are carrying out pioneering work in delivering mental health training for all officers and rail staff and last year, there were 935 direct life-saving interventions by officers, rail staff and the public. Over the last twelve months we responded to nearly 6,000 incidents involving people intending to harm themselves. Sadly, we also handled 362 deaths on the railway.”

As part of our work, BTP has recently introduced a dedicated prevention hotline for rail and health sector workers who may have immediate concerns that a person is planning to harm themselves on the railway, allowing the force to easily identify when an emergency response is needed.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock added: “Whilst we recognise and will obviously concentrate our efforts on reducing the impact of crime and disruption, we have an additional focus on ensuring we counter terrorism, have an effective and robust policing presence for those travelling to football matches and major events, as well as maintaining the protection of vulnerable people.

Deputy Chief Constable Hanstock concluded: “While it is encouraging to compare our current level of performance to last year and note these improvements, the outcome is even more remarkable when you reflect on the progress made over the last 11 years.

“In that time, vehicle and cycle crime has been driven down by 39 per cent, meaning 4,600 fewer offences, while 19,000 fewer people have been the victim of the theft of property, with crimes of this type down 61 per cent.

“All of this has been achieved against a background of a growing industry, increasing passenger numbers and large-scale investment in infrastructure. The demand for the skills of BTP officers and staff will be even greater with the opening of Crossrail, plans for the HS2 link and the introduction of night services on the London tube network.

“The 12-month period covered in this report represents our first year following a national restructure which enabled us to successfully reduce bureaucracy, forge greater alignment with our colleagues in the rail industry, and achieve the majority of our national policing targets – including spending more of our budget on frontline resources and increasing passenger confidence.

“Despite this success BTP is keen to improve further and we remain an ambitious force. As we continue our transformation, we are already well underway with plans to introduce cutting edge technology with better integrated computer systems, handheld mobile devices, body-worn video cameras and greater use of targeted CCTV cameras.

“Each of these initiatives will take a little more time to introduce, but I am confident that, once in place, they will help consolidate BTP’s position as an outstanding police force, delivering first-rate services to make sure that all customers and staff arrive safe, secure and on time.”

Notes to Editors:

The full BTP annual report and statistical bulletin can be viewed online at

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock is available for interview. Please call John Ellul on 07785 293920 or the National Pressdesk to 0300 123 9104 to make a request.

For more information contact:

Glyn Hellam
British Transport Police - Pressdesk Manager
0300 123 9104
07920 509112

John Ellul
British Transport Police - National Pressdesk
0300 123 9104

For the latest news, updates and insight, follow BTP on Twitter: @BTP.

British Transport Police is the specialist, national police service for Britain’s railways. BTP deals with major and minor crime, disorder and incidents, and covers the rail system in England, Wales and Scotland, including London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, the Glasgow Subway and the Midland Metro and Croydon Tramlink systems. Its 2,880 police officers, 376 Police Community Support Officers, 251 Special Constables and 1,451 support staff are recruited and trained like those of local forces and have the same powers. Find out more at

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