Jump in violent and sexual offences on UK railways as figures show 17% increase in crimes on the network

Picture from Pixabay
Picture from Pixabay

A sharp jump in violent and sexual offences has fuelled a 17% increase in crimes recorded on Britain's railways, official figures show.

Some 61,159 crimes were reported by British Transport Police (BTP) in 2017/18, up from 52,235 during the previous 12 months.

Sexual offences increased by 16% to 2,472 and the force believes "there are still many more crimes of this type which go unreported".

Violent crime accounts for nearly one in five of all cases after rising by 26% to 11,711.

Offences involving knives or other weapons went up by 46% to 206, while robbery jumped by 53% to 553 recorded crimes.

BTP chief constable Paul Crowther said: "The chances of becoming a victim of crime on the rail network remains low.

"However, after a long period of steady decreases, both crimes per million passenger journeys and notifiable offences have increased."

Nineteen crimes were recorded per million passenger journeys.

The statistics for the transport network mirror the wider national picture.

Forces in England and Wales registered just under 1.4 million offences in the "violence against the person" category in 2017/18 - a rise of nearly a fifth (19%) compared with the previous year.

BTP's figures show a number of other crimes increasing on the rail network, including throwing missiles at trains (up 35% to 316), arson (up 93% to 143), live cable theft (up 86% to 158) and theft from vending machines (up 21% to 240).

More people than ever before are trespassing on the tracks, accounting for 43% of disruption to trains, compared with 38% last year.

The force said the increase in the total number of crimes is partly due to improving the way crime is recorded, which has increased accuracy and given victims and witnesses "more confidence to report crime".

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "The nature of some crimes is changing and as part of our long-term plan to change and improve, we are investing in new technology and innovations to make our railway even safer for our staff and customers."