Violent assaults surge 12% on UK railways

Almost 4,000 incidents have been reported on British trains in the past year

Train violence crimes are surging, according to figures released under Freedom of Information. Getty Images
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There have been almost 4,000 violent assaults reported on trains in Britain in the past year, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

The statistics from the British Transport Police indicate a significant rise in train-related crimes, prompting calls for a more effective strategy to address this issue.

The BTP data reveals that 3,991 incidents of violence against people were reported on trains in the year ending in November, marking a 12 per cent rise from the previous year.

There were 699 robberies, an 18 per cent rise from the prior year, and sexual offences increased by 2.3 per cent, for a total of 1,419 incidents.

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney, who accessed the information through a Freedom of Information request, expressed concern over the safety of public transport users.

Ms Olney criticised the government's approach to tackling crime on railways, advocating for a return to local community policing to enhance safety.

“People deserve to feel safe when on public transport, yet these alarming figures tell a different story," she said.

“Far too often our train carriages are being turned into crime scenes as violent criminals are allowed to terrorise other passengers with impunity”.

Det Chief Supt Paul Furnell, the BTP's head of crime and public protection, acknowledged the rise in reported incidents.

Mr Furnell said that tackling crimes such as robbery and sexual offences is a priority for the BTP, which has established dedicated task forces.

“We are committed to making the network a hostile place for those who seek to commit such offences,” he said.

“We are aware the data might not represent a true increase, with travel numbers only recently returning to pre-Covid levels.

“Additionally, we continue to campaign to encourage victims and witnesses to report to us as a priority – particularly for sexual offences, which we know are underreported – and with this we expect the number of reports to continue to increase.

“As a result of this, we continue our work to make reporting as accessible as possible for the travelling public, with our discreet text 61016 service turning 10 this year and the introduction of the free Railway Guardian app in 2022.”

The Home Office responded to the figures by highlighting overall reductions in neighbourhood crimes such as burglary, robbery and theft.

“We are providing police forces with the tools they need to deliver for the public and since 2010, our communities are safer," a Home Office representative said.

“Neighbourhood crimes including burglary, robbery and theft are down 50 per cent and violent crime is down 52 per cent.

“There are also now 149,500 police officers keeping the public safe in England and Wales – the highest number on record.”

Updated: December 28, 2023, 11:44 PM