Anti-social behaviour top complaint on Suffolk railways as number of incidents reported increases
PUBLISHED: 06:00 05 January 2020
Anti social behaviour by passengers was the biggest cause of complaint on the railways in the past three years, figures show.
Data from British Transport Police (BTP) show the total number of incidents reported to them in Suffolk increased from 292 in 2017 to 445 up to the end of October 2019.
Of the 445 reports, nuisance behaviour by passengers to other travellers accounted for 192 calls.
BTP said this could range from people playing music too loudly to begging or low level anti-social behaviour.
Large numbers of incidents reported also included concern for people aged over 17 (173), trespass (59) as well as unspecified 'rail incidents' (174).
In Essex, the number of cases reported has also increased in the past three years, from 1,830 in 2017 to 2,149 by the end of October 2019.
Nuisance incidents were again the most common complaint transport police were called to.
Colchester North station recorded the most reported incidents in the county with 733.
Almost 40% of cases reported in Suffolk came from Ipswich Railway Station (451), followed by Stowmarket with around 13% (143).
However the figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, do not record how many were actual crimes committed.
Philip Smart, from the railway campaign group Railfuture said that some of the behaviour seen on Suffolk's railway was unacceptable.
"It affects railway staff who have a right to a safe working environment and also affects other passengers who may be deterred from using the railway in future," said Mr Smart.
"Fare evasion also impacts on the railway as it potentially reduces the income needed to run the railway."
A Greater Anglia spokesman said:"We work very closely with the British Transport Police and other partners to keep our stations and trains safe for our customers and staff.
"Fortunately, it is a very tiny minority of people using our stations who cause these incidents, but we do what we can with our partners to deter this type of behaviour."
A spokesman for BTP said: "More and more people are using the railway and since introducing our text service 61016 in 2016, we have seen increased reporting of a variety of offences as people are able to do so discreetly and conveniently.
"The railway remains a very safe environment, with the number of crimes per million journeys having fallen from 25.6 in 2009/10, to 20.8 in 2018/19.
"Serious crime is much rarer with less than one crime of serious violence or sexual crime recorded per million passenger journeys.
"Above all, the travelling public are our eyes and ears and we'd always encourage anyone with any concerns to text us on 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40."