4 Outcomes |
22. The total
number of crimes committed on the railway has declined in the
past decade. There were 10 consecutive years of crime reduction
up to 2013-14.
The BTP told us:
It is predicted that by the end of 2013/14 there
will have been a reduction of 25,717 offences (40%) in crimes
on the overground railway since 2003/04. In terms of crimes per
million passengers, the rate has fallen from 63.33 in 2003/04
to an expected 24.24 for year end 2013/14. Non-notifiable crime
has fallen from 40.49 to 22.21 crimes per million passengers over
the same period. In 2012/13 Transport for London's rail-based
systems had 9.4 crimes per million passenger journeys and the
predicted figure for 2013/14 shows a further 16% decrease. BTP's
overall detection rate remains constant at around 40%, which compares
favourably with that of forces in England and Wales.
Bearing in mind that the number of people travelling
on the railway has significantly increased in the past decade,
the overall figures on crime reduction are encouraging and could
be taken as evidence of effective performance by the BTP. However,
we noted the marked decrease in the number of crimes committed
in locations other than the railway in the past decade, which
suggested that wider societal factors were also significant.
23. Looking beyond the headline figures, we examined
the number of crimes and detection rate in relation to particular
offences committed on the railway. Comparing the statistics from
2003-04 with those for 2013-14, we identified that
reduced by 82% with a current detection rate of 42%;
· Line of route
offences reduced by 72% with a current detection rate of 24%;
· Motor vehicle/cycle
offences reduced by 35% with a current detection rate of 37%;
· Theft of passenger
property reduced by 53% with a current detection rate of 7%.
24. In contrast with the overall trend in crime reduction
on the railway, incidents involving assault and aggravated racial
harassment have increased in the past five years. The number of
common assaults increased by 6% from 3,632 in 2009-10 to 3,832
in 2012-13. Projected
figures for 2013-14 show that racially aggravated crimes increased
by some 13%. In addition,
the most recent statistics showed a 21% increase in sexual offences
on Britain's railways in 2013-14.
That increase might, as the BTP has argued, indicate a greater
willingness by the public to report such crimes. Nevertheless,
the BTP must continue to address emerging trends in crime through
targeted initiatives, such as Project Guardian.
25. We questioned why the BTP achieved a detection
rate of only 7% in cases involving the theft of passenger property.
The chief constable pointed out the intrinsic difficulty in investigating
If someone gets on a train at St Pancras and
travels to Leeds, and somewhere on that journey they have their
purse or luggage stolen, do you record it at the end destination
or at the beginning? That makes it very hard to analyse. If you
look particularly at the London underground, where there are 1.1
billion passenger journeys a year, and the congested nature of
it, the vast majority of these offences occur inside the train
when people are very crowded together. You can begin to see that
there is not an awful lot of evidence to go on. First of all,
we do not know where the crime was committed. Often the property
is not recovered, so you can't narrow it down. Nobody knows it
has even happened until some time afterwards; it might be an hour
afterwards. Although there is CCTV in a number of carriages, when
you are talking about a very packed train, it is incredibly difficult
to identify offenders.
We acknowledge the practical difficulties in investigating
theft offences but remain concerned by the BTP's 7% detection
rate, which seems remarkably low.
26. The BTPA highlighted a factor which it believed
skewed the detection rate in cases involving the theft of passenger
In order to get insurance payments when you have
lost your mobile phone, you have to report it to a police force.
We get reports of mobile phones that have been stolen because
without a crime number from us, if they think they have lost it
or that it has been stolen on the railway, individual citizens
cannot claim insurance
I am not making any aspersions,
but it is quite important to bear in mind that the insurance companies
don't pay up without a reference number.
We were disappointed by that comment
from the BTPA. The BTPA should focus on driving the BTP's performance
rather than making unsubstantiated allegations about the victims
27. We asked the Minister whether she was concerned
by the 7% detection rate in cases involving the theft of passenger
property. She told us that she had "not personally discussed
it with the chief."
She added that she would "go away and have these conversations."
The DfT is ultimately responsible for the BTP's performance (see
paragraph 10). The Minister acknowledged that "there is always
the potential to intervene around strategic priorities, targets
and performance indicators."
the overall decrease in crime on the railway. However, there is
no room for complacency, because the high-level statistics mask
increases in serious crimes involving assault, sexual offences
and racial harassment and areas where the BTP can improve its
The BTPA must fulfil its core function of setting the BTP challenging
but achievable targets.
Fear of crime
28. We welcome the public's increased use of the
railway in the past decade.
If the railway is to sustain its popularity, the public must perceive
that it is a safe way to travel. The Rail Delivery Group explained
how passengers' perceptions of their personal safety were fundamental
to the viability of Britain's railways:
Fear of crime is an important issue for the rail
industry, especially at stations. Passenger growth, and the general
health of the industry, could be undermined if stations were to
become places people would rather avoid. As an illustration, compare
the new Kings Cross with the rather dingy and unwelcoming old
29. We heard that the reduction in crime on the railway
has been mirrored by an increase in passengers' perceptions of
their own personal security. Passenger Focus surveys showed that
76% of passengers rated their security as 'good' or 'very good'
in autumn 2013 compared with 68% in 2008-09.
The Rail Delivery Group highlighted a similar trend in the National
Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS):
There has been a significant improvement in passengers
feeling secure at stations, going from 62% in 2007 to 71% in 2012.
Similarly, security on trains has increased from 70 to 79% over
the same period. These contrast with the welcome but smaller improvement
in overall passenger satisfaction from 81% to 85% over the same
30. Passenger Focus observed that "the NRPS
only reflects the views of those passengers who are actually travelling
by train, so in effect it is talking to people who have already
accepted the potential risks to their personal security associated
with train travel."
That observation corresponds with research conducted by the Applied
Criminology Centre, University of Huddersfield, which found that
improved security measures result in increased demand for rail
travel. In other
words, some people would like to travel by train but do not do
so because of their fear of crime. That provides a commercial
incentive for train operating companies to invest in passenger
31. The Applied Criminology Centre examined security
measures at 322 stations. It found that the following measures
reduced crime at railway stations:
presence of station staff;
· the presence
· measures to
improve lines of sight across the station;
· the presence
of ticket barriers, and the ability to secure station property
and spaces therein;
· the extent
of routine activity associated with the presence of shops and
In line with that research, the BTP told us that
"more uniformed officers will be available to patrol at stations
and on trains when the public feel most vulnerablethese
late night deployments will provide a visible presence to reassure
passengers and reduce the fear of crime."
32. The Applied Criminology Centre highlighted the
relationship between security at railway stations and security
at railway station car parks. It found that investment in car
park security had no influence on vehicle crime unless it was
accompanied by a corresponding investment in station security,
in which case the combined effect produced a 48% reduction in
Stations is a BTP-accredited scheme for managing security and
adopting measures to reduce crime at railway stations. The scheme
was launched in 1998. In 2011, there were 1,245 Secure Stations
in Britain. Safer Parking is managed by the British Parking Association
on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
Approximately 400 stations have gained Safer Parking accreditation
for their car parks. The increase in the number of accredited
stations and car parks has been driven by the inclusion within
rail franchise negotiations of commitments by train operating
companies to extend the proportion of stations covered by the
DfT, the BTP, Network Rail and train operators must address not
only crime, but the fear of crime in order to maintain and grow
the railway. Visible policing is a proven means of enhancing passengers'
perceptions of security. We therefore welcome the BTP's plan to
deploy more officers on patrolling railway stations at key times.
To fulfil its oversight role, the BTPA must monitor the implementation
of the BTP's deployment of more officers at railway stations and
examine how this affects passengers' perceptions of their personal
approve of the inclusion of compliance with the Secure Stations
and Safer Parking schemes as a factor in rail franchise negotiations.
However, Secure Stations are of little benefit if passengers cannot
get to and from them safely. To secure full value from such investments,
improvements to railway station security should be accompanied
by complementary improvements to station car parks.
Vulnerable children and young
36. We took
compelling written and oral evidence from the charity Railway
Children on the experience of vulnerable children and young people
at railway stations.
Railway Children described the risks to children and young people
in and around railway stations:
It is no mystery why King's Cross
and Manchester Piccadilly have red light areas just outside the
train stations. You have transient populations, mostly of men,
and that is where people will gather when they know there are
vulnerable people and people passing through. It is why pick-pockets
and others are there as wellto exploit people who have
a number of things on their mind and are not concentrating
We know that some of the sexual exploitation taking place on concourses
is gang-related and quite organised in some areas.
the BTP patrols railway stations and engages with people who are
travelling without tickets, it encounters a significant number
of vulnerable children and young people. Between April 2012 and
August 2013, the BTP picked up 90 runaway children at Euston,
185 runaway children at King's Cross, 115 runaway children at
Paddington, 239 runaway children at Liverpool Street and 140 runaway
children at Euston Underground.
The BTP told us that the problem is not confined to London and
that its officers encounter vulnerable children and young people
in major railway stations across Britain.
Railway Children pointed out that those figures, which are the
best available, may be unreliable and could understate the problem:
We sent out an FOI to BTP a number
of months ago to see how many young people who were picked up
were subsequently found to be missing
We got the
response from BTP that it would be too costly to look through
all of those because a lot of them were manual written forms.
The BTP acknowledged that "the
data is undoubtedly there" and agreed to "go away and
look at how we can make the data more visible."
data are crucial to, first, defining and, secondly, solving problems.
We welcome the BTP's assurance that it will examine its available
data on runaway children and young people. We look forward to
seeing the results of its analysis, which will inform not only
our inquiry but the work of charities such as Railway Children.
If that analysis of the BTP's data requires significant resources,
the DfT should make them available to facilitate the protection
of vulnerable children and young people.
39. We were surprised to learn that, unlike other
police forces, the BTP is not subject to specific targets in relation
to child protection. Railway Children stated:
If you look at police outside BTP, they have
their own specialist child protection and they have links with
their local authorities as part of the safeguarding board. I always
find it quite strange that the BTP people I have been in contact
with do not seem to have those connections.
The BTP explained that its national
remit posed specific challenges in relation to child protection,
because, unlike local police forces, it had to deal with local
authority child safeguarding boards from across the country.
40. We asked
the BTPA why it had not set the BTP targets in relation to child
protection. The BTPA replied:
What would be our targets?
They [runaway children] have come from somewhere. Their home county
is where they have targets
We could certainly think about
how we should deal with them in custody and care. One of the things
that we have been thinking about is how we communicate with their
to send them back to where they will be long
term. These are very often long-term issues
Let the record
show that I give you my assurance that I will take it away and
look at it.
Although the welfare
of a runaway young person or child is the long-term responsibility
of a local authority safeguarding board, it is the BTP's short-term
responsibility while that young person is in its care.
The BTPA must set the BTP appropriate targets in relation to
child protection to bring the BTP in line with other police forces
and to capture the extent and importance of the BTP's responsibilities.
41. We asked
the Minister whether she was aware of the issue of vulnerable
children and young people at railway stations. She replied:
No; I focused much more on the
broader issue of vulnerable people, without particularly identifying
vulnerable children. As a consequence of this meeting, I will
make sure that I am getting as briefed on vulnerable children
as I have been on vulnerable people in the more generic sense.
at railway stations is an emerging issue. We commend Railway Children
for raising it, which allowed us to alert the Minister.
The DfT should ensure that the BTPA sets the BTP appropriate
targets on child protection. In addition, the Minister should
convene a seminar involving departmental officials, the BTP, the
BTPA, Railway Children and other NGOs and the Transport Select
Committee to ensure that policy and practice in this area is fit
42. The theft
of power supply and signalling cable delays passengers, and cable
is expensive to repair and replace.
We have maintained a focus on cable theft throughout this Parliament,
notably in our Cable theft on the railway Report which
we published in January 2013.
Incidents of cable theft have declined since the publication of
that Report. The Minister stated:
During 2011-12, there were 845
cable theft incidents. That cost the industry around £12
million and caused 344,000 delay minutes, which is obviously significant.
Moving to 2013-14, we had 179 cable theft incidents costing the
industry about £2.5 million with about 68,000 delay minutes.
43. In our
Cable theft on the railway Report, we recommended that
"the Government amends the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and
introduces measures to improve the audit trail for metal purchases,
by requiring that sellers prove their identity before metal is
traded at scrap yards."
The DfT explained how it implemented our recommendation:
The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013,
which came into force in October 2013, aims to clamp down on rogue
traders and gives local authorities and the police new powers
to inspect premises. Additionally legislation now prohibits cash
transactions, creates a register of scrap metal dealers, and requires
that all transactions are fully verifiable/auditable, including
through a requirement to provide name and address details.
The Minister told us that that
legislative change was "absolutely crucial" in tackling
the sharp decline in incidences of cable theft, which has translated
into reduced delays for the travelling public and decreased costs
for Network Rail.
36 DfT (SOR 002) para 5 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.1 Back
Office for National Statistics, Crime in England and Wales period ending March 2014 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.4 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.7 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.8 Back
"Railways sex offences rise by 21%", BBC, 21
August 2014 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.2 Back
DfT, Rail Trends Great Britain 2012/13 Back
Rail Delivery Group (SOR 009) para 4 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.9 Back
Rail Delivery Group (SOR 009) para 12 Back
Passenger Focus (SOR 007) para 2.4 Back
Applied Criminology Centre (SOR 006) para 3.4 Back
Applied Criminology Centre (SOR 006) para 3.1 Back
BTP (SOR 010) para 2.11 Back
Applied Criminology Centre (SOR 006) para 3.3 Back
Applied Criminology Centre (SOR 006) para 2.1 Back
Railway Children (SOR 003) Back
Q30; Q37 Back
Railway Children (SOR 003) Back
Qq140-141; Q146 Back
DfT (SOR 002) para 27 Back
Transport Select Committee, Fourteenth Report of Session 2010-12,
Cable theft on the railway, HC 1609 Back
Transport Select Committee, Fourteenth Report of Session 2010-12,
Cable theft on the railway, HC 1609, Recommendation 3 Back
DfT (SOR 002) para 31 Back