Thieves are getting a 'free ride' on Northamptonshire's trains shock figures show

Criminals are getting a free ride on the trains through Northamptonshire, a union says, after figures revealed almost every theft on our railways went unsolved last year.

By Paul Lynch
Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 7:00 am
Almost every theft on the railways in Northampton went unsolved last year, figures show.
Almost every theft on the railways in Northampton went unsolved last year, figures show.

Out of 31 the thefts recorded on passenger services in the county in 2018 - only one was solved.

That is according to figures obtained by JPI Media Investigations through the Freedom of Information Act, which have shown that no suspect was identified in the majority of crimes on the railways last year.

In Northamptonshire, 193 offences were reported to the British Transport Police in the county - but only 32 resulted in charges being handed out. Two of the three sexual offences were not solved either.

Almost every theft on the railways in Northampton went unsolved last year, figures show.

Mick Cash, General Secretary of the rail union RMT, said: “These are shocking statistics which show that on far too many occasions a criminal act on the railways is a free ride for the perpetrator.

“It’s a reflection of the under-resourcing of the British Transport Police and the drive to axe train and platform staff.

“The solution is investment in staffing and security and a zero-tolerance approach that brings to book all those who think they can turn the railway into a criminal’s playground.”

Crime rates across Britain have been on the rise in recent years and its railways have been no different.

In six out of ten crimes reported on Northamptonshire's railways - no suspect was identified.

The number of crimes logged by British Transport Police (BTP) rose by 30 per cent in the two years to 2018, with more than 66,000 offences on trains, tracks and stations last year.

And although officer numbers have risen slightly, the rate of unsolved cases has remained stubbornly high, at about 60 per cent, for the past three years.

Last year, 91 per cent of thefts of passenger property went unsolved - with cases either shelved because no suspect had been identified in England and Wales or logged as ‘undetected’ in Scotland.

About half (49 per cent) of sexual offences went unsolved last year, including eight rapes.

Figures obtained by JPI Media Investigations.

Violent crime has been soaring on the railways, with violent offences up 49 per cent in the two years to 2018.

But police did better in solving these crimes, with just three in ten cases unsolved, analysis of the figures by the JPIMedia Data Unit shows.

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith from British Transport Police, said crime on the railways remains “incredibly low”, with less than one journey in a million involving any kind of violence.

He said the force conducts “a great number of highly visible as well as plain clothes patrols to identify pickpockets, or those exploiting the crowded network to commit sexual offences”.

He said: “Fortunately, the majority of crimes reported to BTP result in no injury coming to a victim, such as theft, common assault or vandalism.

“Nevertheless, we understand these crimes are concerning for passengers, and I would like to reassure them that we are completely committed to reducing and preventing crime.”

Lauren Forsyth, 24, was travelling on a London Underground carriage in November last year when she was sexually assaulted by a stranger.

British Transport Police shelved her case after finding there was no CCTV on the carriage.

Lauren, of Hertfordshire, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she had supplied a very clear description of the man and was left feeling “so angry” that the police didn’t do more.

She said: “I felt they easily could have solved this and found the man that did it to me.”

BTP said it was not responsible for CCTV on carriages.