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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 05:07 GMT 06:07 UK
Railways see sharp rise in crime
Rail passengers
The full extent of rail crime may be higher
Crime on Britain's railways rose by more than 5% last year, according to latest figures.

The biggest rise was in crimes along rail routes, with offences such as obstructing trains and endangering safety up by 113% to 4,691 in England, Wales and Scotland.

British Transport Police (BTP), who compiled the statistics, believe the rise is largely due to such offences being "seriously under-reported" in the past.


Only a fraction of these potentially dangerous events are recorded by the police

Ian Johnston, BTP chief constable
Police chiefs believe they do not reveal the true number of incidents as most are not recorded.

The clearer picture on crime trends has emerged from a better relationship with Railtrack and train operators.

BTP chief constable Ian Johnston said there had been "real progress" in building an industry-wide strategy to combat track crime.

He added: "Even so, only a fraction of these potentially dangerous events are recorded by the police."

Robberies involving violence or the threat of violence had also risen by 26% to 3,408 incidents last year across England, Wales and Scotland.

Signs of improvement

Nearly 90% of all robberies on trains in 2001/02 were in the London area.

There were a total of 783 robberies - more than two a day - on the London Underground, representing an increase of 33%.

The situation has improved this year, with robbery figures for the first three months of 2002/03 down 30%.

Mr Johnston said: "It has been a year of re-building for the rail industry after the Hatfield crash.

"For BTP it has been a year of considerable challenges, not least in confronting rising violent crime and robberies nationally and in responding to the aftermath of 11 September."

The new report says that last year, theft from passengers, including pickpocketing, was up 4% and theft of railway property was up 18% while criminal damage was down 8% and fraud was down 21%.

It also revealed an increase in disorder among travelling football fans with more serious and organised outbreaks of violence on trains and at stations.

BTP spends 8% of its total budget and one third of its overtime budget on football policing.

See also:

23 Jul 02 | England
25 Mar 02 | England
22 Sep 00 | Scotland
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