Crime on Britain's railways
falls for 10th year in a row!
Photograph by Patrick
THE British Transport
Police (BTP) this week have revealed notifiable crime (which
makes up the more serious offences dealt with by the Force) fell
by 6% during 2013/14; meaning there were more than 3,000 fewer
victims of crime than the previous year. Notable achievements
include a reduction of 18 percent in recorded robberies, a 17%
drop in theft of passenger property and a 37% fall in theft of
cable from the railway. Much of this success can be attributed
to targeted initiatives run by BTP; often in conjunction with
rail companies and other partners. BTP Chief Constable Paul
Crowther said:- "The initiatives and operations which have
made such an impact during the past 12 months really highlight
the advantage our specialist knowledge brings to the railway. By
working with the rail companies and passengers, we are able to
truly understand the challenges they face and devise innovative
solutions to tackle those problems. In 2012 theft
of passenger property was highlighted by both passengers and
train operators as a growing concern, as thieves turned to
trains and stations which offered supposed easy pickings."
In response BTP launched
Operation Magnum, an awareness campaign which drew on the
knowledge and experience of rail officers and staff to advise
passengers about the most common tactics used by thieves; as
well as tips to avoid falling victim to those methods. The
results are remarkable. Chief Constable Crowther added:-
"We have led the way in combating theft and there can be
little doubt that Operation Magnum, which was driven by online
content and social media, has had the desired effect with almost
3,000 fewer people falling victim to this type of crime year on
year. During 2013/14 we also continued to spearhead efforts to
tackle metal and cable theft both on the railway, and in other
sectors, through the National Metal Theft Taskforce; bringing
about a 37% fall in railway cable theft which, in turn,
significantly reduced the delays and disruption faced by the
railway as a result of criminal activity. Again, our specialist
knowledge and close understanding of the issue allowed us to not
only tackle the thieves at the point of the crime, but also to
help the push for a change in legislation. Working with industry
and Government, we were instrumental in helping to craft the new
Scrap Metal Dealers Act which has levelled the playing field for
legitimate scrap metal recyclers, brought legislation into the
21st Century and significantly increased the risk of prosecution
faced by thieves and unscrupulous dealers."
Of course, not all crime types have seen reductions. Sexual
offences recorded by British Transport Police have risen by 21%
year on year; that is a slightly higher increase than that
experienced by Police forces nationally. 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. But another BTP
led initiative, Project Guardian, has also had a significant
impact. Chief Constable Crowther, who was appointed in May 2014,
said:- "Project Guardian, a joint initiative between BTP,
Metropolitan Police Service Safer Transport Command (STC), City
of London Police and Transport for London (TfL), focuses on
increasing awareness and confidence amongst 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. During the
coming 12 months; and beyond; BTP will seek to build on these
successes and innovations to make what is already a relatively
low crime environment even safer for passengers and staff alike.
For the coming months and years we will have one simple
goal; to make sure everyone who travels or works on the railway
can get home everyday, safe, secure and on time. The rail
industry is growing at an exponential rate and, as a Police
force designed with specialism at our core; we are the world's
only national force dedicated to the railways; it is vital that
we able to adapt to meet the challenges this brings. To continue
in our success we cannot carry on working in the same way we
have always done and initiatives such as Project Guardian and
Operation Magnum point the way for BTP's new direction. This
process of adaptation began during 2013 when the Force undertook
a restructure to allow it to invest in further frontline
resources. The restructure, which was developed in 2013 and
introduced in April this year, has reduced bureaucracy and cut
the layers of management, rationalised our back office functions
and put the Force in greater alignment with the infrastructure
of our colleagues in the rail industry. As a result we will be
able to invest in more than 200 more Police officers who will
work on the front line to ensure the benefits of the restructure
are directly experienced by passengers and staff alike. Of
course, this is just the start, and my aim is to build on BTP's
unique qualities and specialist skills to develop our approach
to things such as problem solving and offender management,
dramatically develop our use of cutting edge technology and work
more closely with external partners to devise new and innovative
ways to deter criminals and reduce the impact their activity has
on the safe running of the railway. These are not simple tasks,
but we have consistently demonstrated we are able to deliver a
world class policing service which has produced an environment
in which you are 9 times less likely to be a victim of crime
than elsewhere in Britain. I am proud to be leading BTP during
this period of change and development and I have no doubt that
we have the skills, desire and expertise to ensure all
passengers and staff can get home everyday, safe, secure and on
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