More than half of crimes on Scotland’s railways go undetected

More than half of the crimes reported on Scotland's rail network went undetected in 2018. Picture: John Devlin
More than half of the crimes reported on Scotland's rail network went undetected in 2018. Picture: John Devlin
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Union leaders have condemned as “shocking” research that found more than half of all crimes reported on Scotland’s railways last year went undetected.

Data obtained from British Transport Police (BTP) via Freedom of Information requests revealed there were 1,681 reported crimes on the rail network north of the Border in 2018 - with 1,004 (60%) of those classed as going unsolved.

Since 2016, there has been a 10 per cent rise in the number of reported thefts of property by passengers on Scotland’s railways.

Across the UK, thieves are getting away with their crimes on Britain’s railways nine times out of 10.

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 a zero tolerance approach that brings to book all those who think they can turn the railway into a criminal’s playground.”

The number of crimes logged by 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 around 60 per cent, for the past three years.

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.”