British Transport Police (BTP) has today revealed notifiable crime (which makes up the more serious offences dealt with by the Force) fell by six per cent during 2013/14 – meaning there were more than 3,000 fewer victims of crime than the previous year.
Notable achievements include a reduction of 18 percent in recorded robberies, a 17 per cent drop in theft of passenger property and a 37 per cent fall in theft of cable from the railway.
Much of this success can be attributed to targeted initiatives run by BTP – often in conjunction with rail companies and other partners.
BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther said: “The initiatives and operations which have made such an impact during the past 12 months really highlight the advantage our specialist knowledge brings to the railway.
“By working with the rail companies and passengers, we are able to truly understand the challenges they face and devise innovative solutions to tackle those problems.”
In 2012 theft of passenger property was highlighted by both passengers and train operators as a growing concern, as thieves turned to trains and stations which offered supposed easy pickings.
In response BTP launched Operation Magnum, an awareness campaign which drew on the knowledge and experience of rail officers and staff to advise passengers about the most common tactics used by thieves – as well as tips to avoid falling victim to those methods. The results are remarkable.
Chief Constable Crowther added: “We have led the way in combating theft and there can be little doubt that Operation Magnum, which was driven by online content and social media, has had the desired effect with almost 3,000 fewer people falling victim to this type of crime year-on-year.
“During 2013/14 we also continued to spearhead efforts to tackle metal and cable theft both on the railway, and in other sectors, through the National Metal Theft Taskforce – bringing about a 37 per cent fall in railway cable theft which, in turn, significantly reduced the delays and disruption faced by the railway as a result of criminal activity.
“Again, our specialist knowledge and close understanding of the issue allowed us to not only tackle the thieves at the point of the crime, but also to help the push for a change in legislation. Working with industry and Government, we were instrumental in helping to craft the new Scrap Metal Dealers Act which has levelled the playing field for legitimate scrap metal recyclers, brought legislation into the 21st Century and significantly increased the risk of prosecution faced by thieves and unscrupulous dealers.”
Of course, not all crime types have seen reductions. Sexual offences recorded by British Transport Police have risen by 21 per cent year-on-year – an increase which is slightly higher than that experienced by police forces nationally.
Part of this increase can be attributed to the high profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical offences which have, undoubtedly, given victims more confidence to come forward. But another BTP led initiative, Project Guardian, has also had a significant impact.
Chief Constable Crowther said: “Project Guardian, a joint initiative between BTP, Metropolitan Police Service Safer Transport Command (STC), City of London Police and Transport for London (TfL), focuses on increasing awareness and confidence amongst the public to report unwanted sexual behaviour to the police or members of staff. We are particularly interested in those offences which are often unreported, such as sexual assault, exposure, outraging public decency, lewd comments and harassment.
During the coming 12 months – and beyond – BTP will seek to build on these successes and innovations to make what is already a relatively low crime environment even safer for passengers and staff alike.
Chief Constable Crowther, who was appointed in May this year, said: “For the coming months and years we will have one simple goal – to make sure everyone who travels or works on the railway can get home everyday, safe, secure and on time.
“The rail industry is growing at an exponential rate and, as a police force designed with specialism at our core – we are the world’s only national force dedicated to the railways – it is vital that we able to adapt to meet the challenges this brings.”
“To continue in our success we cannot carry on working in the same way we have always done and initiatives such as Project Guardian and Operation Magnum point the way for BTP’s new direction.
This process of adaptation began during 2013 when the Force undertook a restructure to allow it to invest in further frontline resources.
Chief Constable Crowther added: “The restructure, which was developed in 2013 and introduced in April this year, has reduced bureaucracy and cut the layers of management, rationalised our back office functions and put the Force in greater alignment with the infrastructure of our colleagues in the rail industry.
“As a result we will be able to invest in more than 200 more police officers who will work on the front line to ensure the benefits of the restructure are directly experienced by passengers and staff alike.
“Of course, this is just the start, and my aim is to build on BTP’s unique qualities and specialist skills to develop our approach to things such as problem solving and offender management, dramatically develop our use of cutting edge technology and work more closely with external partners to devise new and innovative ways to deter criminals and reduce the impact their activity has on the safe running of the railway.
“These are not simple tasks, but we have consistently demonstrated we are able to deliver a world-class policing service which has produced an environment in which you are nine times less likely to be a victim of crime than elsewhere in Britain.
“I am proud to be leading BTP during this period of change and development and I have no doubt that we have the skills, desire and expertise to ensure all passengers and staff can get home everyday, safe, secure and on time.”
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