HALF OF RAIL CRIMES IN THE SOUTH WEST INVOLVED YOUNG PEOPLE: Boy enjoying sport activity at Network Rail's No Messin' event

Monday 6 Apr 2009

HALF OF RAIL CRIMES IN THE SOUTH WEST INVOLVED YOUNG PEOPLE

Route:
Western
There were more than 500 recorded incidents of railway crime involving young people last year in the South West. Whilst overall railway crimes has dropped by about 15% from 2007 - 2008, figure shows that many young people are still putting their lives at risk.

100 locations across the Britain were specifically targeted by Network Rail’s dedicated Community Safety team, and majority of the hotspots in the South West saw their numbers fall by 27% on average. However, the large proportion of young people involved in railway crimes remains worrying.

Network Rail has launched its annual No Messin’ campaign this Easter to continue its efforts to raise awareness among young people on the dangers of playing on the railway and to warn them to stay away.

Among the more shocking crimes committed in the South West by young people include - throwing a chair at trains, firing air rifles at trains and hanging legs off platforms.

Liz Heading, Community Safety Manager, Network Rail, said: “We’re seeing some real success in bringing down the levels of railway crime in hotspot areas, but there is much more work to be done to save lives and prevent needless injury. We are working hard to tackle the most dangerous crimes where young people think it is fun to play ‘chicken’ with a 200 tonne train going at 100mph or place objects on the line, which could have catastrophic consequences."

“This summer we will be taking our No Messin’ Live event to Swindon to get young people involved in exciting and fun activities, such as football, boxing, motorcycling and street dance. Once the event is over we will continue to work with the local clubs to sustain that interest and develop their skills and keep them off the tracks for good.”

British Transport Police deputy chief constable Andy Trotter said: “BTP welcomes the news that crime is down in the areas targeted by Network Rail. While the figures represent good progress, we are not going to be complacent and we will continue to work closely with our partners to reduce crime even further.

“Our officers work tirelessly alongside Network Rail to educate youngsters that the railway is no playground and that those who gain access to prohibited parts of the railway are putting their lives at risk.”

No Messin' Live! is a free event, arranged in conjunction with a number of local organisations, where young people aged 10-16 can try out a range of sports, music and arts activities. Motorcycling, football, street/urban dancing, boxing, DJ-ing, and a climbing wall are just some of the activities available.

The No Messin’ Live tour will be going to Swindon and it will be held at The Park, Farringdon Road on 12 August.

Notes to editors

2008 top ten hotspots 1. Stapleton Road (Bristol) 2. Swindon 3. Trowbridge 4. Weston-Super-Mare 5. Truro 6. Teignmouth 7. Taunton 8. Sydney Gardens (Bath) 9. Stroud 10. Devonport Railway Crime Statistics 2007 vs 2008 Hotspots 2007 2008 Swindon 35 vs. 24 Weston and Worle 42 vs. 28 Trowbridge 24 vs. 23 Keyham 22 vs. 9 Stapleton Road 21 vs. 25 Lawrence Hill 20 vs. 12 Bedminster 19 vs. 14 St Austell 19 vs. 11 Westbury 10 vs. 7 National figures • A total of around 13,000 recorded incidents of trespass and vandalism. This excludes cable theft, suicides, on-train vandalism. • 5,000+ crimes committed by young people. This equates to more than 100 a week. • 3,089 trespass incidents with young people. • 90 incidents of playing chicken • 1,063 objects thrown at trains • 1,181 objects placed on the tracks • We know that the number of incidents increase between 4pm and 7pm and during school holidays. • Young people are responsible for nearly 40% of crimes on the railway. Whilst the minority, young people take more risks and their actions are more dangerous – ie playing chicken and graffiti spraying in hard to reach locations. Adult crimes tend to be more platform-to-platform trespass and taking short cuts. • Fatalities: There were 57 accidental public fatalities excluding those at level crossings. Three were of people under the age of 20. Comparison from 2007 to 2008: - Overall recorded incidents of rail crime are down around 13% - Recorded incidents of rail crime are down around 30% in the 100 hotspot locations where we have focused the campaign. - Recorded incidents of rail crime are down around 45% in the ten worst locations - Railway crime costs the industry £264m every year. The Dangers - Did You Know…? • Trains travel at up to 125mph and can take the length of 20 football pitches to stop. If you get hit by a train, there will only be one loser • It takes up to 25,000 volts of electricity to power trains through the overhead lines. It’s always switched on and can even jump through the air to get to you. If you get too close it can kill – you don’t even have to touch anything to get killed. • In some places on the network, trains are powered by the third rail. It carries 750 volts of electricity and is never switched off. Touching the rail will almost certainly result in death or serious injury. The Penalties Trespassing on the railway is a criminal offence which carries a fine of up to £1,000. A child of eight years or older in Scotland and 10 years or older in England and Wales can be prosecuted. A child of 12 years or older can be sent to a residential care unit. In Scotland, a parent/guardian will be sent to the procurator fiscal who will give them a reparation order which may mean that they have to attend a course or take part in community punishment projects. Putting objects on the tracks (like rocks or shopping trolleys) could cause a train accident which may hurt or kill other people. If you do this, then you can be prosecuted by the police. The maximum penalty for causing a train accident is life imprisonment. If a child is charged with causing a train accident, then a parent/guardian may be prosecuted by the police too. Graffiti is also a serious crime which can result in a prison sentence. If you are caught trespassing or vandalising on the railway, then you will be prosecuted.

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