Increase in railway attacks

Concern: Aidan Turner Bishop
Concern: Aidan Turner Bishop
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More than 200 people have been assaulted at train stations across Lancashire over the last five years, new figures reveal.

British Transport Police (BTP) recorded 220 assaults at stations between 2008 and 2012.

There was a small increase in the number of attacks last year, with 58 in 2012 compared to 36 across 2011. More than one in four - 15 - of those happened at Preston Railway Station. The youngest offender was aged 13 and was arrested at Lancaster.

A total of 24 people have been caught with knives at county train stations since 2008, 16 of them at Preston and the youngest aged 17. Twenty of the offenders were given a caution and four charged with possessing an offensive weapon.

The figures were published following a Freedom of Information request by the Evening Post to the BTP.

Aidan Turner Bishop of the Campaign for Better Transport said concerns had been raised about reduced opening hours of some BTP desks in Lancashire stations. He added: “It’s very important passengers feel safe. It’s no good telling people to switch to public transport if they don’t.”

Det Ch Insp Malcolm McKinnon of BTP said: “Any increase in a crime type is disappointing, but the rise of 22 assaults across Lancashire during the past year should be viewed against a backdrop of seven years of falling overall crime on the railway, couple with increasing detection rates for violent crime. It should also be noted that these figures include all assaults from common assaults with no injury, which make up the majority of the crimes, to the relatively rare, more serious assaults.

“The figures also include incidents in which people attempting to travel without paying become aggressive and violent when challenged by rail staff.

“Anti-social behaviour and violence is completely unacceptable on the rail network and in wider society and I would like to reassure all rail passengers that British Transport Police is committed to tackling incidents of this nature.

“BTP works extremely closely with the rail industry and Lancashire Police to keep passengers and staff safe and we will continue to develop these working relationships to further improve safety and, where necessary, bring offenders to justice.”