Recorded sexual offences on Britain’s trains and stations have reached record levels after seeing a dramatic increase of some 25% in 2014/15, British Transport Police (BTP) figures reveal.
In total the force, which covers trains and tubes in England, Wales and Scotland, recorded 1,399 sexual offences in 2014-15 an increase of 282 on the previous year.
BTP attribute much of the increase to better reporting of the crimes following hard-hitting campaigns to raise awareness and a new text service, which gives victims a more discreet way to report incidents.
The 61016 text service was launched in 2013. In 2014/15, it received 8,926 texts – an average of 744 a month. More than 17,000 texts have been received since its launch delivering ‘real results’ BTP said.
A hard hitting campaign campaign to stamp out sexual offences
In 2013, a partnership between BTP, Transport for London (TfL), the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police launched Project Guardian to help tackle the issue of sexual offences following a safety and security survey in the capital.
The survey revealed that while one in 10 Londoners experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, more than 90% did not report it.
Recorded sexual offences on the London transport system in 2014/15 increased by 29.78% compared with 2013/14, this demonstrates ‘that the initiatives we have launched together to increase reporting are having an effect’ BTP said.
Overall crime was down for the 11th consecutive year. BTP recorded a total of 46,688 notifiable crimes, down from more than 50,000 in the preceding 12 months, a drop of 8.2%.
Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock concluded: ‘While it is encouraging to compare our current level of performance to last year and note these improvements, the outcome is even more remarkable when you reflect on the progress made over the last 11 years.
'In that time, vehicle and cycle crime has been driven down by 39%, meaning 4,600 fewer offences, while 19,000 fewer people have been the victim of the theft of property, with crimes of this type down 61%.'
'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 under-reported. Last year we asked people to tell us about their experiences so we can do more, and that is exactly what they have done.
'The rise in violent crime is a concern, but is also worth noting, again, that the chances of being a victim of any crime are small.'