The transformation of train stations into eating and shopping “destinations” is partly behind an apparent surge in crime on Britain’s rail network, police have claimed. The British Transport Police said the redevelopment of rail hubs in cities such as London, Birmingham and Leeds has meant the work of officers is “rapidly changing”. As well as
The transformation of train stations into eating and shopping “destinations” is partly behind an apparent surge in crime on Britain’s rail network, police have claimed.
The British Transport Police said the redevelopment of rail hubs in cities such as London, Birmingham and Leeds has meant the work of officers is “rapidly changing”.
As well as criminal incidents on board train carriages and platforms themselves, the force oversees the wider station area.
It comes amid a 12% rise in crime on the country’s railways, with 68,313 offences reported in the past year compared to 60,867 in 2017/18.
Sexual offences have surged 135% in the past five years – with 2,635 reported in 2018/19 – while violence also jumped 61% over the same timeframe, according to the BTP’s annual report.
Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said the spike had been “anticipated” due to the “record” number of passengers now crammed onto services up and down the country.
The risk of falling victim to serious or violent crime continued to be “rare” on the rail network – affecting in every million journeys during the past year.
But the changing face of Britain’s stations was also identified as a potential driving force behind the alarming rise in crime.
Mr Hanstock added: “The rail environment is rapidly changing. Just a decade ago, the railways were simply a method of travel but today some of our stations are destinations in their own right.
“As an example of this change, many London stations are increasingly popular shopping destinations and also offering a host of busy restaurants and bars.
“In Leeds, there are a number of lively nightclubs established in the rail arches and Birmingham New Street station doubles as a major shopping centre.”
The force claimed “proactive” work to identify people carrying knives on trains accounted for half of all recorded knife crime offences in the past year.
A jump in reported hate crime on the network – up 7% in the past year with 3,580 reports – was similarly explained by a campaign encouraging onlookers to report such offences, the BTP said.
Paul Crowther, the chief constable of the BTP, said in his foreward to the force’s annual report: “Although serious offences involving weapons remain rare on the railway network, bringing the issue sharply into focus for the rail network was the stabbing of one of our officers outside Ilford station in London in November last year and the tragic murder of a man on board the Guildford to Waterloo service in January.
“In each case our officers were on scene within minutes, detaining or searching for violent offenders and providing vital assistance and support in difficult and challenging circumstances.”