Rise in sex attacks on Scotland’s railways

Sex attacks on women were up last year. Picture: Getty
Sex attacks on women were up last year. Picture: Getty
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SEXUAL offences against women on Scotland’s railways increased last year but far more of their assailants were traced than in cases south of the Border, according to figures published today.

British Transport Police (BTP) said such cases had risen across Britain, partly because of past victims reporting them following the high-profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical offences.

The increase came as general notifiable crimes, which comprise more serious offences, fell by 1 per cent to 1,654 in Scotland and by 6 per cent to 50,840 across Britain.

North of the Border, robberies, forgery, drug possession and cycle theft were up, while other violent offences, damage, theft and disorder were down.

There were 19 sexual crimes against women on the Scottish rail network in the year to March, compared to 12 the previous year, but the detection rate went up from half to three-quarters of cases.

Across Britain, fewer than one third of such 624 cases were ­detected.

Overall, sexual crimes across Britain increased by 21 per cent to 1,117 offences. The Scottish total was down 8 per cent to 36, mainly because the number of cases of exposure halved.

BTP said the increase in sexual offences was slightly higher than that experienced by police forces across Britain.

A spokesman said: “Part of this increase can be attributed to the high-profile prosecutions of celebrities for historical ­offences which have, undoubtedly, given victims more confidence to come forward.”

David Sidebottom, director of rail watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “It is generally very safe to travel by train in Britain and passengers will welcome a reduction in the number of serious offences being committed on the rail network. However, they will be concerned by the increase in sexual crimes. Passengers tell us the best deterrent against crime is a visible staff and police presence on trains and at stations.”

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said: “It is vital that all possible measures are taken to ensure the safety of women travelling on public transport.”

Among other crimes in Scotland, the number of robberies and assaults with intent to rob increased from 12 to 20, although virtually all of them were detected, partly thanks to improved CCTV coverage on trains and at stations.

Fraud, including forgery, increased from 40 to 56, with many cases involving counterfeit £20 notes.

Drug possession offences were up by 12 to 61, and cycle theft or damage from 36 to 61. Other violent offences were down by 13 per cent to 326, criminal damage by 12 per cent to 212 and thefts from passengers by 1 per cent to 340. Disorder offences were cut from ten to two.

BTP attributed the dip in theft cases to the success of its Operation Magnum campaign, which advised passengers on the most common tactics used by thieves.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther described the results as “remarkable”, with cases across Britain down by 17 per cent to 14,353.