Waverley on wrong side of the tracks in theft statistics

PASSENGERS at Edinburgh's Waverley Station were the victims of more thefts than any other rail station in Scotland, new figures revealed today.

A total of 89 thefts of personal belongings were reported in the station in the last year, while there were another 81 thefts of other items, including railway property.

Waverley had the second highest number of overall crimes for stations across the country with 462, second only to Glasgow Central, which had 601 offences.

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The figures today led to calls for an increased policing presence at the Edinburgh station, and extra CCTV to deter thieves.

Meanwhile, the Bathgate to Airdrie line was revealed as a hotspot for thefts of copper wiring.

The figures, released under freedom of information laws, also revealed that there were 34 violent attacks at Waverley during the year, along with seven cases of "malicious mischief" and one mugging. Six people were caught with drugs at the station while 149 cases of public disorder were reported.

There were 37 cases of "line offences", which resulted in trains being delayed or cancelled, such as throwing stones at windows and placing obstructions on the line.

Councillor Mark McInnes, Tory transport and environment spokesman, said action needed to be taken over the volume of thefts at the station. He added: "British Transport Police (BTP) need to bring about a focus on Waverley Station and a greater presence there. I would also like to see more CCTV cameras in the station to deter thieves".

The figures reveal that 13 thefts from passengers were recorded at Haymarket Station over the year, with four cases of violent assaults.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Safety and security of passengers and railway employees is a top priority for us. We already have a number of measures in place, such as CCTV cameras, to deter criminals from committing offences and we continue to work closely with the BTP on crime prevention at our stations."

Charlie Gordon MSP, Labour's transport spokesman, said there had been a drop in violent crime at stations across Scotland, but more needed to be done to tackle offending.

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He said: "Most of the categories of crime are going in the right direction, but it's concerning that some crimes are going up because of the recession.

"On the new Airdrie to Bathgate line, I know they've been beset by people stealing large amounts of copper wiring."

Police recently launched a new crackdown on the underground trade in stolen metal, which is estimated to cost Britain almost 800 million a year.

In August, would-be thieves attempted to down a 300-metre section of the line near Uphall station, Livingston. Horse riders later came across the 33,000-volt line, left dangling dangerously close to a path.

Chief Superintendent Ellie Bird, with BTP, said: "These figures should be put into context. There are now almost 80 million passenger journeys undertaken in Scotland each year, so the chances of becoming a victim of crime are minute."