A BTP officer patrols the platform at King's Lynn railway station in Norfolk

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Crime recorded on British railways increased by 12% last year including a rise in the number of violent and sexual offences, new figures show.

British Transport Police recorded 68,313 crimes in 2018/19, up from 60,867 during the previous 12 months.

Violent crime accounted for a fifth of all cases after a 17% rise to 13,591, while sexual offences rose by 8% over the same period to 2,635.

BTP said the figures show serious crime is rare across 3.3 billion journeys.

The latest figures show theft of passenger property was the most common offence recorded on the network – accounting for more than one in five (21%) crimes.

Police figures also show a number of other crimes increasing on the rail network, including:

  • Possession of controlled drug (up 52% to 2,305)
  • Theft from person (up 36% to 7,593)
  • Theft from vehicle (up 26% to 823)
  • Assault on police (up 17% to 750)

BTP noted that there was fewer than one serious crime per million passenger journeys in 2018/19.

The total number of all crimes recorded per million journeys made has fallen from 25.6 in 2009/10 to 20.8 in 2018/19.

Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said that last year’s overall increase in crime was “of concern” but that “with record levels of passengers using the railway, we anticipated there could be a subsequent rise in crime”.

“As stations become increasingly commercial environments, a large proportion of this increase is as a result of theft of passenger property, anti-social behaviour or shoplifting,” 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.”

Railway stations with most thefts per passenger

Rate of thefts per 100,000 passengers in 2018-19

He added: “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.”

Susie Homan of the Rail Delivery Group, said the figures show “Britain’s railway remains one of the safest in the world”.

She added: “As an industry we are working with the BTP to return to a long-term trend of falling crime on the railway, by trialling and investing in new technology like body-worn cameras for staff and working with police to increase the reporting of crime.”

The figures do not cover Northern Ireland, as railway policing there is the responsibility of the PSNI.

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