The number of recorded sexual offences on trains and at stations has risen 25% to a record level, British Transport Police (BTP) figures suggest.
BTP recorded 1,399 sexual offences in 2014-15 in England, Scotland and Wales – up 282 on the previous year.
Recorded violent crimes also increased – up 8% to 9,149 – but overall crime fell for the 11th year in a row.
The force said the rise in sex crime figures was mainly due to a campaign to encourage reporting of these offences.
Project Guardian launched in 2013 with the aim of reducing sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport in London, after a survey suggested that 90% of such attacks went unreported.
‘I was sexually assaulted on the Tube’
Ellie Cosgrave was sexually assaulted whilst travelling on the Tube.
“It was an extremely packed Tube carriage…it was a really confusing situation. I wasn’t really capable of moving away,” she told the BBC.
Officers in uniform and colleagues in plain clothes were deployed to patrol London’s transport network to identify offenders and prevent crime.
That led to a campaign called “Report It to Stop It” which was launched in April this year to tackle sexual assault on the London Underground.
However, this campaign – accompanied by a video in which a female commuter is increasingly hounded by a persistent male and eventually groped – came after the period in which these annual crime figures were collated.
BTP officers are responsible for policing all railway stations and trains – including the London Underground – in England, Scotland and Wales.
The figures, which cover the 12 months to the end of March, show most of the sexual offences were against women and girls.
Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock called the rise in violent crime a “concern”.
“It is worth noting that the chances of being a victim of any crime are small,” he said.
“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.”
Comparing 2014-15 with 2013-14:
- Total recorded crime fell from 50,839 incidents to 46,688
- Sexual offences increased 25% from 1,117 to 1,399
- Criminal damage rose 1.9% from 3,298 to 3,361
- Theft of passenger property fell 16% from 14,353 to 12,039
- Robbery fell 17% from 436 to 358
- Fraud offences fell 18% from 457 to 374
Mr Hanstock added: “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%, 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%.”
The force said a key priority now was to cut train delays caused by incidents such as vandalism and trespass, after police failed to hit last year’s target to reduce rail disruption by 6%
<<Source: BBC News>>