Violent crime rise on region's railways revealed in new report
PUBLISHED: 11:01 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 05 September 2019
An increase in violent and drug offences drove a 16% rise in crime on the region's railways last year, according to a new report.
A total of 27,377 crimes were recorded by British Transport Police (BTP) across the eastern region in 2018/19, up from 23,521 during the previous 12 months.
BTP's annual crime statistics for the North B Division, which encompasses Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and parts of Cambridgshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire, revealed a 21% rise in violent offences.
Sexual offences on the region's railways rose by 8%, while drug crime soared 64% from 455 cases in 2017/18 to 750 last year.
Nationally, a 12% rise in crime was recorded across Britain's railways but BTP highlighted that there was fewer than one serious crime per million passenger journeys in 2018/19.
Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said the force anticipated there could be a rise in overall crime as passenger numbers grew.
He said: "Despite this increase, when put into context it is important to remember that the chance of becoming a victim of crime on the railway is very low.
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"We now police more than 3.3billion journeys each year, the equivalent of a third of the world's population passing through our jurisdiction.
"Of course, any rise in crime is of concern to us and we are tackling this head on through our problem-solving initiatives at key locations."
Criminal damage fell 7% but there were year-on-year rises in East Anglia for robbery (37%), motor vehicle/cycle offences (16%) and theft of passenger property (30%).
Public disorder offences in the region also increased from 4,090 in 2017/18 to 4,165 last year (1.8%).
BTP said preventing serious violence and knife crime remains one of its key priorities on the country's railways.
Mr Hanstock added: "Nationwide, our patrols and high-profile operations have included a number of overt and covert tactics to tackle knife crime.
"By using knife arches and stop and search powers in a controlled way, we've been able to seize weapons before they're used to potentially take a life.
"Fortunately, assaults involving a weapon on the railway are extremely rare, and these decisive steps are part of our commitment to keeping our railways safe."