Violence on public transport triples

VIOLENCE on public transport in Essex has more than tripled in the past six years, new figures have revealed.British Transport Police figures show the number of victims of violent attacks have risen from 51 incidents in 1999-2000 to 102 in 2002-3 to 174 in 2004-5.

VIOLENCE on public transport in Essex has more than tripled in the past six years, new figures have revealed.

British Transport Police figures show the number of victims of violent attacks have risen from 51 incidents in 1999-2000 to 102 in 2002-3 to 174 in 2004-5.

The Essex increase, which the Government has attributed to a mix of more people coming forward and a new sys-tem of recording crime, is more than three times the national average increase during the same period.

The figures, which were released following an information request by the Liberal Democrats, are based on inci-dents that fell within British Transport Police jurisdiction and, as such, include attacks in stations as well as on the bus or train.


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And the statistics yesterday prompted a leading rail user campaigner to call for more on-train patrols by police and rail staff, although he also claimed the figures did not mirror the daily experiences of passengers.

Transport secretary Derek Twigg said the increases were, in part, due to a new system of recording crime intro-duced in 2002, adding that transport police have also become more proactive in getting victims of assaults to report attacks to the police.

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But Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat shadow transport secretary, said the rise was “shocking” and would “deter many from leaving the car at home and take public transport.”

Rail operator One yesterday said whilst nearly all of its passengers made their journeys in complete safety it was nevertheless taking action to further improve both security on its trains and in its stations and to make stations more inviting places to be.

A spokesman for the company said: “For most people their experience of travel will not reflect these figures, which are not specific to rail.

“Having said that we are working very closely with a number of partners including Network Rail and British Transport Police to improve security at stations.

“There has been an increase in CCTV coverage at stations and we are working towards creating stations that are more pleasant places in which to be.

“It is all about creating areas that discourage unfortunate incidents.”

Lee Berry, of bus operator First, said: “Public transport is one of the safest ways of travelling and passenger inci-dents on our buses are very few and far between

“The worst thing with buses is vandalism caused to them such as stones being hurled at windows, but even that is very rare.”

David Bigg, chairman of the Witham and Braintree Rail Users Association, said: “These numbers are low com-pared with the number of rail journeys each year and the number of passengers who are on them.

“People should not be fearful of travel but we do need more security on our trains, whether it be from the police or rail staff, not because there is crime, but because it will reassure those people travelling on trains.”

He added that whilst the group received two or three complaints a week about rail travel he had never once re-ceived a complaint about a violent attack or a violence-related issue.

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