Sexual Offences on Trains And In Stations Reaches Record High. But It Might Not Be As Bad As It Sounds
The Debrief: The increased number of sexual offences may, in fact, be due to better reporting...
New figures from the British Transport Police show that the number of sexual offences reported on trains and in stations is at a record high. There were 1,399 sexual offences reported in 2014-15 across England, Scotland and Wales – 282 more than the previous year, and most, unsurprisingly but depressingly, were committed against women and girls.
However, the news may not be quite as bleak as it first appears. The British Transport Police have said that the increase in the number of reported sexual offences is mainly due to the work by Project Guardian in ‘empowering people to report any instances of sexual offences on trains and Tubes’.
In a press release published by British Transport Police, Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said, ‘The increased reports we received of sexual offences being committed on trains and Tubes, revealed by Project Guardian, made it abundantly clear this issue was a significant concern for people yet was considerably underreported. Last year we asked people to tell us about their experiences so we can do more, and that is exactly what they have done.’ Hanstock continued, ‘BTP is always looking to pioneer new and inventive ways of confronting crime – whether that’s through the use of evidence-based policing, the work of our specialist mental health team, the introduction of body-worn video for patrol officers, or the growing use of our 61016 text message service.’
The 61016 is just one of the ways that Project Guardian has tried to make it easier and less intimidating to report inappropriate and unwanted sexual behavior on Tubes and trains in London. Over 2,000 police officers and PCSOs patrol London’s transport network to identify offenders and prevent crime, while staff throughout the organization were retrained to be more victim-focused.
Overall, the British Transport Police reported a 8.2% drop in all offences and, while violent and sexual crime had increased, theft had decreased by 16%. The British Transport Police has also introduced a dedicated prevention hotline for rail and health-sector workers ‘who may have immediate concerns that a person is planning to harm themselves on the railway, allowing the force to easily identify when an emergency response is needed’.
‘Each of these initiatives will take a little more time to introduce,’ said Hanstock. ‘But I am confident that, once in place, they will help consolidate BTP’s position as an outstanding police force, delivering first-rate services to make sure that all customers and staff arrive safe, secure and on time.’
The full BTP annual report and statistical bulletin can be viewed online here.
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