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British Transport Police release annual crime statistics

Figures released today show that last year there were just 16 crimes recorded for every million passenger journeys made on the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales.

As the number of passenger journeys on the railways continued to increase – there were an extra 17.5 million journeys in 2016/17 compared with 2015/16 – BTP recorded 52,235 crimes between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017.

That compares with 48,718 recorded crimes in 2015/16 and represents a 7% increase in recorded crime (an additional 3,517 crimes). This is less than the increase in all crimes of 11%, recorded by police forces in England and Wales.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “Like most police forces in England and Wales, we recorded more crimes in 2016/17. This was due to a number of factors, including victims and witnesses having the confidence to report crime to us, thanks in part to our discreet and convenient text 61016 service, and targeted campaigns to encourage reporting of crime.

“Despite this increase, the chance of you becoming a victim of crime on the railway remains low, with just 16 crimes for every million journeys made on our railways. A decade ago, we recorded more than twice this, with 35 crimes for every million passenger journeys.

“As the network expands and becomes busier, it’s not surprising that more crimes are recorded. In 2016/17, 987 million more journeys were made on the railway than 10 years before – a total of 3.2 billion journeys a year. Stations are also becoming entertainment hubs, with Birmingham New Street and London St Pancras just two examples of railway stations attracting more people to their shops, bars and coffee shops.

“In addition to the increase in the number of people using the railway, we have also worked hard to make it easier for people to report crime to us.

“We’ve been running a number of campaigns directed at encouraging people to report crimes that previously may have been underreported – including our Report It To Stop It campaign aimed at driving down sexual offences and We Stand Together aimed at encouraging reporting of hate crime.

“Over the past decade, we have seen crime on the railway decrease. Recorded crimes are more than a third lower than they were 10 years ago, despite passenger journeys increasing by 44% in that time. Crime on the railway has decreased by 34% compared with 2006/07, and crimes like robbery have decreased by 82%, theft of passenger property by 47% and criminal damage by 55%.”

In 2016/17, our officers and colleagues in local police forces, together with rail staff and members of the public, made 1,837 life-saving interventions on the railway, an increase of 45% on the previous year. Each one of those represents a person in crisis being prevented from harming themselves and being helped to safety.

Our Report It To Stop It campaign continued to encourage people who experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the transport network and led to a 9% increase in the number of sexual offences we recorded in 2016/17 – 180 more offences than the year before.

Hate crime increased by 23% compared with 2015/16 – a total of 2,756 offences were recorded in 2016/17. However, we still believe under-reporting is an issue. Through our We Stand Together campaign, we continue to raise awareness of what hate crime is, and encourage those who experience it while they’re travelling on the network, as victims or witnesses, to report it to us. We believe everyone has the right to travel safely, no matter what walk of life they come from. We won’t tolerate behaviour where someone is targeted or made to feel uncomfortable on their journey.

Violence against the person also increased by 12.5% - from 8,230 in 2015/16 to 9,263 recorded crimes last year. The majority of these (5,907) were common assaults, which meant the incident resulted in no injury for the victim. 

For every million passenger journeys in 2016/17, we recorded two violence offences where there was no injury to the victim, and less than 1 (0.7) where the victim was injured. Nationally, police forces recorded an increase in violence offences of 18% and BTP recorded the second lowest number of offences in the country.

Chief Constable Crowther said: “In the last 12 months, BTP officers have been at the forefront of a number of major incidents, including a tram derailment in Croydon in November and critical incidents in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge and Borough Market.

“Coupled with increasing demand on our services, a growing rail infrastructure and the ever-present threat of terrorism, these are certainly challenging times for police forces. However, I am confident that BTP is in the right position to keep our railways safe for those who work and travel on them. Over the next year, we will continue to make sure we have the right people in the right place and at the right time.” 

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