Friday 17 Jul 2009


Region & Route:
| North West & Central

More than 400 children from schools across High Wycombe got the chance to emulate their local football heroes – and learn about staying safe on the railway – thanks to Network Rail’s No Messin’ campaign, supported by Wycombe Wanderers FC.

This is the fifth year that the football club has shown its support for Network Rail’s award-winning No Messin’ campaign, which works to educate young people on the dangers of trespassing on the railways and provides them with a variety of alternative, positive and fun activities such as football to get involved in.

The activity days at Adams Park, on 15 and 16 July, gave the kids the chance to take part in a host of football-related activities including five-a-side, beat the goalie, penalty shoot-outs and target shooting. They also got the chance to go on a tour of the stadium including the home and away changing rooms.

Before stepping out onto the pitch the kids were shown a hard-hitting DVD which highlighted the dangers of playing on the railway. Every year dozens of people are killed or seriously injured on the railway by taking short cuts or even using the track as a guide home. In the last twelve months there were 50 incidents of trespass and vandalism recorded in the High Wycombe area, however, as it is impossible to capture every incident, the true number is estimated to be much higher. Just last week, the driver of a train ended up in hospital after his windscreen was shattered by an object thrown at the train close to White House Farm tunnel near High Wycombe.

Other recorded incidents of trespass and vandalism in the High Wycombe area include:

  • Placing objects on the line to obstruct trains
  • Throwing objects at trains
  • Shining a laser pen into the train driver’s eyes
  • Playing ‘chicken’ with trains
  • Running alongside tracks or across lines
  • Spraying graffiti

Terry Hawkins, Network Rail’s community safety manager, said: "During the summer and school holidays we always see an increase in rail crime with the light evenings and kids looking for something to fill their free time.

"The railway can be a dangerous place and those trespassing or taking short cuts across it are putting their lives at risk. It can take the length of 20 football pitches for a fast train to stop and if you get hit by a train, there is only ever going to be one winner. Our campaign tries to make kids think twice about what they’re doing and will hopefully save lives.

“We are delighted at the success of these events and would like to thank Wycombe Wanderers Football Club for their continued support of our No Messin’ campaign.”

Dave Evans, WWFC Community Trust manager, said: "This summer Wycombe Wanderers has joined forces with Street Dreams to deliver projects targeted in areas to tackle the issues surrounding railway crime and vandalism.

"As a Community Trust, Wycombe Wanderers fully supports the No Messin' campaign."

Notes to editors

Pupils from the following schools attended the activity days: - Millbrook Combined School - Beechview Combined School - Disraeli Combined School - St Augustine’s Combined School - Bookerhill Combined School - Ash Hill Combined School - Cressex Community School - Highcrest Community College Top 5 rail crime hotspots on Chiltern Route from Marylebone to Aylesbury/High Wycombe: 1. High Wycombe 2. Aylesbury 3. Princes Risborough 4. Denham 5. Gerrards Cross Railway Crime statistics 2008: • A total of around 13,000 recorded incidents of trespass and vandalism. This excludes cable theft, suicides, on-train vandalism. • 5,000+ crimes across the UK were 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 2007/2008: • 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 The cost £: 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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