Thursday 1 Apr 2004


Region & Route:

Stay off the railway and stay safe this Easter. That’s the message from Network Rail as it launches its Easter holiday campaign against railway crime in the Midlands. The ongoing battle against trespass and vandalism is part of the rail industry crackdown on mindless vandals whose actions put lives at risk. Network Rail and its industry partners are taking a more aggressive stance than ever before to target criminals who attack the rail network with potentially catastrophic results. Incidents of railway crime represent some of the biggest threats to the safety of Britain’s railways. As part of its ‘School Education Programme’ and in the run up to the start of the Easter holidays, Network Rail has contacted 200 primary and secondary schools in ‘hotspot’ trespass and vandalism areas across the region. Each school has been offered the chance to receive a visit by a schools liaison officer, who will educate pupils on the dangers of trespassing on the railway. The Easter holidays will also see the start of ‘Operation Skyhawk’, which Network Rail is carrying out in conjunction with the British Transport Police. The programme involves dedicated helicopter patrols across the region aimed at spotting trespass and vandalism perpetrators. Specially trained teams will also be working on the ground, visiting known hotspots to detect and apprehend anyone committing acts of route crime. -more- Easter - 2 Network Rail and its industry partners operate a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ to railway crime and in addition to the ‘School Education Programme’ and ‘Operation Skyhawk’, have a long line of initiatives to tackle the problem. · Regional radio campaigns during school holidays aimed at children and parents · Use of closed circuit television cameras at key railway crime locations and mobile CCTV cameras · Ongoing fencing programme · Access gate campaign – aimed at railway workers, highlighting their responsibilities in ensuring access points are left secured · Football in the Community – running training and workshop sessions for children and young people to divert attention away from trespassing on the railway · Joint initiative with Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and the Environment Agency to produce an education/enforcement action campaign to tackle the problems of flytipping and littering on the Midlands railway network. Railway trespass not only involves children, research has shown that over 17 million acts of railway crime are committed in the UK every year by people aged 17 and over. Taking a short cut home across the railway this Easter is not only a criminal offence carrying a fine of up to £1000, but could also prove fatal. Robbie Burns, Regional Director for Network Rail Midlands region said: “The cost of railway crime is enormous, both in terms of train delays and damage to trains and infrastructure. But it is the threat to the lives and safety of passengers and railway staff that is the main cause of concern.” -more- Easter - 3 “Crime on the railway is a huge concern to us all, working closely with the industry and our local communities is the key to tackling this major problem. I would urge anyone who sees anything suspicious on railway property to report it to the free 24-hour hotline number on 0800 40 50 40 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where rewards are available for information which leads to a successful conviction.”

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