Last week the Police and Crime Committee, on which I serve, met for the first session of its investigation into crimes against the person on public transport in London.
Over the next weeks the Committee will consider how to reduce crime, improve safety and increase reporting on public transport – including reducing the fear of crime and improving confidence to travel.
A call for evidence has been issued for the investigation and at the Committee’s second meeting in November 2015 it will discuss its findings with Transport for London, the Met, British Transport Police, City of London Police and train and bus operating companies.
The task of preventing crime on public transport in London is shared between Transport for London (TfL), London’s policing agencies and other agencies that work to improve the safety and security of passengers, staff and local communities.
On Thursday the Committee heard from a number of guests on how these different agencies can work more effectively together to improve safety of passengers.
We heard from Dr Andrew Newton (Applied Criminology Centre, University of Huddersfield), Andrew Trotter, (Director, Andrew Trotter Advisory), Sarah Green (Director and Campaigns Manager, End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW)),Bryony Beynom (Co-Director, Hollaback London), Stephen Locke, (Chair, London TravelWatch) and Rachel Griffin (Director, Suzy Lamplugh Trust).
We discussed how the risk of becoming a victim of crime on public transport is relatively low – currently, over ten million passengers travel on TfL’s public transport services each day with very few of them ever experiencing or witnessing crime. However, the rise in violence against the person and sexual assault across the transport network is a challenge.
Transport police dealt with 178 more violent assaults in 2014/15, an 8.6 per cent increase on the previous year, and sexual assaults reported to London’s transport police increased by 32.2 per cent. Passengers are more likely to be a victim of violence on buses than on the London Underground/DLR: in 2014/15 there were 2.4 violence against the person offences per million passenger journeys on buses and 1.6 offences per million passenger journeys on the Underground/DLR. Furthermore, Crime associated with the taxi and private hire services, in particular touting, and the introduction of the Night Tube are also key issues.
At the meeting I discussed with my colleagues how a large proportion of crime on public transport is not reported. This makes it difficult to establish the true extent of crime. This happens for various reasons including; reluctance to delay a journey; absence of someone to report to; belief that the report will not be taken seriously; and a lack of confidence that the offender will be caught.
I look forward to continuing to investigate this very important issue with my colleagues in the London Assembly. It is something that I know is very important to my residents and something which they raise regularly with me.
I hope that Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, City of London Police and train and bus operating companies take on board our recommendations next month.