Crime and disorder on public transport
|Publisher:||Department for Transport|
|Mode/topic:||Rail, Roads, Public transport|
This guidance has been prepared in order to promote understanding of the nature of crime and disorder on public transport and encourage CDRPs to engage with the transport sector in addressing these problems.
Home Office circular 16/04 places a duty on CDRPs to invite public transport operators and providers to participate in the formulation and implementation of local crime and disorder reduction strategies. This was part of a wider Government strategy to encourage more widespread co-operation amongst all parties with an interest in reducing crime and the fear of crime around public transport.
A recent review of crime and disorder strategies has found an increase in the number of CDRPs that include crime and public transport amongst their strategic priorities. Furthermore, there are some CDRPs that do not include public transport as a strategic priority but nonetheless are actively engaged with partners from the transport sector to address problems of mutual concern. While there is an increasing body of effective practice, there is still some way to go in ensuring that all CDRPs are fully aware of the crime and disorder problems experienced by people using public transport in the communities they serve. Much of what is contained in this briefing paper is based on the review.
Surveys reveal that for passengers the walk to and from the stop or station is often perceived to be the most insecure part of their journey, and that the time spent on vehicle is perceived to be the most secure. Passengers base their decision to travel on how secure they feel about the whole journey, and so may be deterred from using public transport because of concerns about parts that are beyond the control of transport operators. CDRPs can assist by focusing attention on those walking routes to public transport and the environment around transport interchanges.
Reducing crime on public transport can contribute to a range of issues of concern to local communities. Public transport plays an important role in removing barriers to education, training, employment and health, and hence to promoting social inclusion. Improvements to public transport can encourage a modal shift away from car travel, thus contributing to environmental quality and sustainable development. Public transport has a vital contribution to economic activity, and in particular to the night time economy, getting people safely into and out of town and city centres.
Crime and anti social behaviour on public transport
In terms of volume, the biggest problems for transport operators are theft from the person, violence against passengers and staff, criminal damage and anti social behaviour. Problems faced by operators reflect the neighbourhoods they serve, both in nature and scale. For example, public disorder at a rail station is often associated with the presence of bored young people who use it as a place to congregate. Criminal damage (including graffiti) of bus shelters is likely to be associated with a route that passes through high crime neighbourhoods.
Public transport – particularly night buses, taxis and Private Hire Vehicles – plays an important role in the night time economy. However, this can make transport staff particularly vulnerable to crime and anti social behaviour if having to deal with passengers who have drunk too much alcohol.
- Importantly, many of the problems facing public transport operators are those that are also a priority for CDRPs:
- Violent crime and disorder, often associated with the town or city centre and the night time economy
- Criminal damage against vehicles, bus stops and shelters, bus and rail stations, and rail linesides and bridges
- Anti social behaviour, often as a result of young people using bus and rail stations and interchanges as places to gather
- Robbery, although the British Transport Police (BTP) have been successful in bringing about reductions in recent years, against national trends
- Prolific offenders, sometimes identified by operators as being the source of many of their problems in and around the transport network
- Fear of crime, predominantly associated with the walk to and from the stop or station rather than on the bus or train itself.
Only 25% of recorded crime on the rail network takes place on the train while the majority - 75% - takes place elsewhere, most notably on the station or station car park.
What are transport operators doing to reduce crime?
Public transport operators already invest heavily in crime reduction measures. For example:
- The train operating companies (TOCs) paid a total of £170m for the policing and security services of the British Transport Police in 2006/07.
- Over 50% of rail stations and more than 3,000 trains are equipped with CCTV surveillance systems. There are 20,000 CCTV cameras on the network and over 500 rail stations have cameras that are centrally monitored.
- In 2006/07 45% of buses nationally were equipped with CCTV, and in London the figure was much higher at 91%. In one metropolitan area, the total cost of fitting 500 buses each with 8 cameras was estimated to be £1.43m.
- Many bus and rail operators provide front line staff with DNA swab kits to gather evidence when they are spat at. One bus company spends £2,000 annually on providing new drivers with swab kits.
- Network Rail spends around £100m each year on repairing and replacing damaged lineside fencing, cleaning graffiti, replacing damaged equipment and on fines imposed by the regulator for delays caused by track trespass and vandalism.
- One TOC spends just over £1m annually on maintaining a dedicated unit for dealing with crime and disorder.
- One bus operator providing services in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas spends over £65,000 annually on security staff for those services.
- One private hire vehicle company pays for its own marshals to control the queues of passengers on weekend nights.
- Network Rail invests around £10m a year on community and education initiatives about the dangers of track trespass and vandalism.
- The annual budget for ‘Crucial Crew’for a bus operator in a metropolitan district is over £9,000.
The benefits of working with transport operators
Improving the crime data
The table below sets out the kind of data that may be available locally from public transport operators and other public transport related sources.
Passenger Transport Executive (PTE)/ Transport for London
Numbers of reported bus-related incidents for specific categories of offences (for example, bus shelter and bus station damage, on-vehicle criminal damage, and assaults against staff). Some PTEs geo-code the data.
Clear Channel and JC Decaux
Incidents of bus shelter damage by location
Numbers of reported incidents of criminal damage (including graffiti) to buses, staff assaults and anti social behaviour (often that associated with travel to and from school)
Train operating companies
Numbers of reported incidents of criminal damage (including graffiti) to stations, depots and trains, staff and passenger assaults.
Numbers of track and lineside incidents
British Transport Police
Numbers of reported and recorded incidents by offence category (notifiable and non-notifiable – the latter including public disorder and alcohol related offences). Individual rail station data by categories of offence. More detailed analysis available for specific offences on request.
Local taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Associations
Could provide evidence about the incidents affecting their drivers, problem areas, etc.
A number of Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) have developed standard reporting forms for operators to use and return, so that the PTE can collate the data for the region. Reports are geo-coded and cover both crime and anti social behaviour. Some PTEs then separate out the data as appropriate and disseminate it to the CDRPs in the region.
Many rail and bus operators have taken steps to encourage staff to report incidents, which they have developed systems to record, and this has improved the quality of the data.
Public transport staff – including taxi and private hire vehicle drivers - can be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community, and CDRPs could also benefit from the informal intelligence that they provide.
One CDRP has a Safer Transport Team that goes onto buses and asks passengers for their views and concerns about crime and disorder on the bus network. They leave their contact details with passengers, so that people can get in touch and give information about incidents and problems.
Understanding crime problems
A number of CDRPs who already work with the transport sector have identified that it can improve their understanding of local crime problems.
One CDRP pays for people in Pupil Watch to patrol bus routes to identify young people of school age who may be truanting. As well as moving the young people to a place of safety they also use the data they obtain and overlay it with other crime data, to help them to analyse the activities of young people who are truanting from school.
A local survey in one area revealed that drug use was a problem on buses. The major bus operator has a text line system and used this so that people travelling on buses could text information to them, and incidents could be referred to the relevant agencies.
Another CDRP was concerned with an increase in robberies and identified that some of the hotspots were at transport interchanges and was associated with the large groups of young people who were gathering there.
Being effective in reducing crime
Measures designed to reduce crime on public transport have been found to impact on other crime problems. For example, by running ‘gateway checks’, whereby staff and police check the tickets of bus passengers, one CDRP has been able to tackle its robbery problem, and also to increase public reassurance and reduce fear of crime.
Both transport operators and CDRPs can avoid displacement of crime by working together. For example, if crime reduction measures at a rail station are effective they may merely displace the problem into the wider environment. By working together, measures can be put in place to ensure that this does not happen.
Involving the transport sector
Network Rail is responsible for the track and lineside. They are freeholders of the rail stations and so have some responsibility for station improvements, although they actually manage the major stations.
Train Operating Companies manage the train services and most stations.
Bus companies run most services on a commercial basis, although some socially necessary services are run on a contract let by the PTE or local authority.
The BTP is the dedicated police force for the rail network, and was added to the statutory list of agencies to be invited in the formulation and implementation of strategies in 1999. The bus networks have no equivalent dedicated national police force, but come within the jurisdiction of the Home Office force for the area they serve. However, a few metropolitan areas now have a police unit dedicated to the bus network.
Passenger Transport Authorities and their PTEs are responsible for the provision of public transport in metropolitan areas. This includes contracting socially necessary services and the provision and maintenance of the bus infrastructure.
In non-metropolitan areas the local authority is responsible for the provision of public transport, including socially necessary services and the bus infrastructure.
Transport for London (TfL) is the executive arm of the Greater London Authority whose responsibility includes London Buses, the Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink, the Public Carriage Office and London Underground.
The local authority Licensing Department (in London this is the Public Carriage Office) is the regulatory body for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. Many licensing authorities consult with drivers over matters of concern to them and some hold regular meetings with the taxi and private hire trade.
Some key contacts are given at the end of this briefing paper.
The practicalities of partnership working
BTP force areas cover huge swathes of the country, and the officers responsible for your CDRP area may be based miles away. Nonetheless, if you have a crime and disorder problem at or around the rail station they will want to work with you to address it.
Most bus and rail operators operate services which cross several CDRP boundaries, and their head office may not be in your area. There are likely to be a number of bus operators providing services within your boundaries, and may be more than one TOC providing rail services. You should start by inviting them all to contribute data and intelligence that will assist you in developing your strategic assessment. Once you have identified your priorities for action, it will be clearer which operators you will need to work with. Having made this initial contact, it will be easier for both sides to re-establish contact if problems arise in the future.
Transport operators and providers and the BTP may not be able to attend regular meetings, especially if they are based some distance away. However, they will appreciate being sent the agenda for and minutes of meetings, so that they can identify whether there is an issue that they can contribute to. Some CDRPs have regular meetings with the BTP and operators individually, to share information about emerging problems and initiatives and explore opportunities for partnership working.
One CDRP holds an information sharing meeting annually with transport operators and the BTP in the area, but a substantial amount of activity and informal communication takes place throughout the year.
Some CDRPs involve the BTP, PTE or TfL, and transport operators in tasking and coordination meetings. Once again, there may be a problem for people to attend all meetings, and in some cases this has been resolved by them providing data to all meetings but only attending if there is a problem that requires a partnership response.
Some PTEs have established their own forum for addressing crime and disorder across the CDRP areas in their remit. This provides an opportunity to develop solutions to problems that cross CDRP boundaries. In such cases it is important for all involved to agree on the role and remit of these meetings and how they relate to the CDRPs’ own structures, so as to avoid duplication of effort.
The rail industry has a national, strategic group led by the Rail Safety and Standards Board which sets priorities in relation to crime and personal security on the rail network. There are eight local cross-industry Community Safety Partnership Groups (CSPG) chaired by Network Rail, whose role is to develop and deliver local plans to deliver national strategy and forge links with CDRPs. A central point of contact for these is given at the end of this document.
One CDRP regularly attends the regional Community Safety Group led by Network Rail, and has found this to be a useful means of establishing relationships with the key players and laying the foundations for joint initiatives
Addressing crime and disorder on public transport
There are a number of ways in which transport operators and the BTP are already working with CDRPs and in local communities to reduce crime and disorder on public transport. Here are some examples:
Situational crime prevention measures
- Involving the CDRP in planning the refurbishment of a bus station
- Auditing tram and bus stops with a view to recommending environmental improvements
- Annual survey of rail stations leading to environmental improvements
- Use of polycarbonate rather than glass in bus shelters
- Locating CCTV at bus shelters on the basis of analysis of PTE data regarding damage
- Portable CCTV for use at hotspots
- Use of CCTV images and school visits to identify offenders
- CCTV link between town centre and rail station
- CCTV in taxis
- Putting in place an additional taxi rank/moving a taxi rank to reduce crowding and potential violence
- Taxi marshals and improved queuing arrangements at ranks
- White lighting on pedestrian routes
- Extra truancy patrols on the bus and rail network
- Bus marshals
- Bus monitor scheme to encourage responsible behaviour among school pupils
- Closing a railway line crossing to reduce vandalism
- Removal of graffiti from line-side on approach to the station
- Cycle theft initiative at rail stations (involving property marking)
- High visibility policing at hotspots and on problematic services to act as a deterrent
- Patrolling of rail station by Home Office police during the hours that a rail station was unstaffed
- Law enforcement
- Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on public transport
- Safer Transport police team, with dedicated officers for bus services
- Police operations at bus stops and along routes, including those crossing borough boundaries
- Operation Shield (search arches for knives and other metal detection) at rail stations
- Revenue operations on bus and rail
- Data sharing in relation to fare evaders, who may be wanted for other offences
- Bus Tag Unit to identify graffiti vandals
- DNA kits for bus drivers
- Use of CCTV images in prosecutions
- Covert surveillance on vandalised infrastructure, both bus and rail
- Police drugs dog and handler working on buses
- Improving reporting by providing text facility for passengers who witness anti social behaviour
- Posters at bus shelters to encourage reporting
- Neighbourhood policing around rail stations
- Dispersal Orders at rail stations
- Anti Social Behaviour Orders, including sharing data between agencies to build evidence
- Alcohol Exclusion Zones
Social crime prevention
- Anti graffiti project to tackle persistent problem in dangerous rail location (electrified cables) with a group of teenagers many subject to ASBO conditions.
- Work with an art group to come up with a community based design to replace graffiti on a railway bridge.
- Railway Safety Reps initiative to enable primary school children to take ownership of issues in hotspot crime areas
- Publicity campaign to encourage good behaviour on buses
- Publicity campaign through local press about successful prosecutions
- A ‘chill out lounge’ in clubs for people waiting for taxis
- Letter to school pupils before last day of term, to encourage responsible behaviour on buses
- Publicity campaign to promote safety for women using cabs
- Education team working with young people in schools
- Acceptable Behaviour Contracts
In a number of areas, transport operators and the BTP have been successfully involved in Partnership Action Weeks, targeting crime problems that are a priority for all agencies.
Addressing the fear of crime
For some CDRPs, the issue of fear of crime is a strategic priority. So too is it for transport operators. Fear of crime is most likely to emerge as an issue through public surveys and consultations. While many CDRPs carry out their own surveys, others make use of surveys conducted primarily for other purposes. In either case, questions can be included about perceptions of crime at specific locations, and these should include bus stops, bus and rail stations, and transport interchanges.
Making contact with transport providers and the BTP
You can find out which TOCs have services in your area by looking at the rail maps on the National Rail Enquiries website: www.nationalrail.co.uk. This also provides links to the websites of the TOCs themselves.
Ring the customer service number (found from the National Rail Enquiries website) and ask to be put in touch with the person responsible for crime reduction and security.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) website provides Regional Contacts, who you could telephone to find out how to contact the bus operators in your area. The address is www.cpt-uk.org.
Alternatively, you could ring the CPT centrally on 020 7240 3131 and they will give you the contact details you need.
Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Associations
The local authority licensing department may hold regular meetings with the taxi and private hire trade, or be willing to hold a special meeting to discuss issues relating to crime and disorder. If not, the national or London association for the trade should be able to put you in contact with your local association.
National Taxi Association
National Private Hire Association
0161 280 2800
Licensed Private Hire Association (London)
Passenger Transport Executives and Transport for London
If your CDRP is in a metropolitan area, contact your PTE and ask to speak to the crime reduction manager.
Greater Manchester PTE (GMPTE)
0161 244 1000
Merseyside PTE (Merseytravel)
0151 227 5181
South Yorkshire PTE
0114 276 7575
Tyne and Wear PTE (Nexus)
0191 203 3333
West Midlands PTE (Centro)
0121 200 2787
West Yorkshire PTE
0113 251 7272
Transport for London (Crime & Disorder Partnership Unit) contacts for the London boroughs:
Barking & Dagenham
City of London
Epping Forest District Council/Essex County ouncil
Contact 0207 027 8179
Hammersmith and Fulham
Contact 0207 027 8178
Kensington and Chelsea
Contact 0207 027 8180
Three Rivers/Watford/ Hertfordshire County Council/Chiltern District Council
Buckinghamshire County Council
Contact 0207 027 8190
British Transport Police
To find out which BTP force area covers your CDRP area, check the BTP website on www.btp.police.uk. The contact details for each force area are:
423-425 Caledonian Road
London N7 9BQ
Tel: 020 7922 4969
West Gate House
Leeds LS1 2RP
Tel: 0113 247 9550
1st Floor, The Axis,
10 Holliday Street
Birmingham B1 1UP
Tel: 0121 654 4237
8A London Bridge Street
London SE1 9SG
Tel: 020 7904 3501
Piccadilly Railway Station
Manchester M1 2BP
Tel: 0161 228 4220
London SW1H 0BD
Tel: 020 7380 1400
Rail Community Safety Partnership Groups
The central point of contact is Network Rail’s Head of Community Safety, whose telephone number is 0203 356 9390.
 ‘Crucial Crew’ – which is named differently in some parts of the country – uses scenarios to teach primary school aged children important safety lessons.
 At the time of publication these are the Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU) of the Metropolitan Police and the Safer Travel Police Team of the West Midlands Police,
 Operation Greyhound is targeted at drug offences. Police surround and enter the bus to stop and search passengers. Operation Trojan uses a ‘dummy’ bus to attract stone-throwing. Police on and following the bus then apprehend offenders. Operation Snowball is a revenue protection initiative.