THERE has been an increase in recorded crime on railways, transport police have said.

Figures released by British Transport Police (BTP) show becoming a victim of serious or violent crime on the British rail network continues to be rare, with less than one serious crime per million passenger journeys during 2018/19.

However, with millions more passengers now using the railway across England, Scotland and Wales, the force has seen an increase in recorded crime.

In 2018/19 there were 68,313 notifiable crimes compared to 60,867 in 2017/18, an increase of 12 per cent.

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, said: “Like forces throughout Britain, we have seen an increase in notifiable crime within the national network.

"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.

“Despite this increase, when put into context it is important to remember the chance of becoming a victim of crime on the railway is very low.

"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.”

Preventing serious violence and knife crime on the rail network remains one of the highest priorities for BTP and since the start of 2019, concentrated effort has been put into place to tackle violent behaviour.

During 2018/2019, the Force also saw a large increase in demand in relation to vulnerable people; both in terms of suicide prevention and supporting those experiencing mental health issues.

DCC Hanstock said: “It is troubling the railway still attracts those in mental health crisis; officers and rail staff work incredibly hard to safeguard those with vulnerabilities and help them access the most appropriate care and support.

"I am immensely proud of what they each do every day to protect people experiencing crisis in their lives. Remarkably, 2,529 lives were saved as a result of their compassionate intervention.

“However, our safeguarding priorities are not all focused towards mental health provision. Of particular concern to us is the growing issue of exploitation through “County Lines” drug trafficking.

"We’ve set up dedicated teams to oversee this important area of safeguarding, sharing valuable intelligence with our national partners including the National Crime Agency.

"As a result of our close collaboration with other law enforcement partners, large quantities of drugs have been seized and importantly, a number of vulnerable youngsters have been protected from these toxic criminal networks.”