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Happy birthday to British Transport Police’s unique text 61016 number - Scotland

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Scotland 61016

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Today marks four years since BTP launched the pioneering 61016 text number which has seen some 1,400 texts being sent in Scotland.

The service encourages rail passengers nationwide to report non-emergency incidents as and when they occur without endangering themselves, unlike any other force in the UK. 

Since the launch in March 2013, some 62,000 messages from UK rail users have been received. This has led to more than 10,000 incidents being recorded and over 4,700 crimes.  

In November last year BTP proudly unveiled a newly wrapped train promoting the innovative 61016 service alongside ScotRail and Transport Scotland. The purpose was clear; to make sure even more rail users in Scotland knew how to get in touch if they need us. Since then, BTP has seen a noticeable increase in the amount of messages being sent to 61016. 

Divisional Commander for Scotland, Chief Superintendent John McBride, said: “Our unique text number has revolutionised the way in which concerned passengers and victims of crime can contact police.

“Policing a moving train has its challenges; however the text service has enabled us to offer passengers a hassle free way to report concerns. We’re now able to be where we need to be as a result of their contact. 

“However, text messages should never be sent in an emergency situation as due to mobile phone signal there are no guarantees that they send correctly or are received promptly.

“We are thrilled that more than 1,400 people have chosen to use this service and we hope that the ease of being able to send a quick text message will encourage more passengers to report incidents. By building up a more accurate picture we can better focus our resources.

“I am convinced that our anonymous and confidential reporting service is making a real difference.” 

David Lister, the ScotRail Alliance’s sustainability and safety assurance director, said: “The text 61016 service has made it easier and safer for our customers to contact the police discreetly, and report crime on the railway that otherwise may have gone unchallenged. 
“Criminality on trains, while quite uncommon, is never acceptable and we will do everything we can to assist BTP in carrying out their duties where required.”

Case studies

On Wednesday 1 March a passenger on board an Aberdeen to Queen Street service text BTP after concerns about an anti-social passenger. Police met the service at Queen Street and spoke with passengers and rail staff and provided a reassuring presence to those concerned. The person who reported the behaviour replied pleased to see that police attended because of their text.

In September last year, BTP received a text from a concerned passenger reporting a disturbance on board a Queen Street service to Polmont. Officers attended the scene and reassured passengers and spoke with a group of men. CCTV was later viewed and no offences were identified. 

On December 21st last year, a text was sent by a concerned passenger reporting four drunken men who were being abusive to a staff member and refusing to buy tickets. Police officers met the service at Dalmuir station and the men were removed for the train service. The train was able to continue its journey with no further anti-social disturbances. 

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Scotland 61016

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