Girls assaulting other girls on Scottish rail network a ‘consistent trend’ – British Transport Police
and live on Freeview channel 276
Chief Superintendent Gill Murray, the force’s Scotland commander, told Scotland on Sunday of "heightened tensions” leading to the assaults involving 12 to 16-year-olds.
An expert source said triggers included youths posting things about each other on social media they would never say face to face, escalating tensions that boiled over when they met.
A BTP report to the Scottish Railway Policing Committee on Tuesday states: “Violence against women and girls has mainly consisted of common assault offences.
“In the west sector, this was noted for female perpetrators aged between 12-16 years old and has been a consistent trend this year [2021-22].”
The sector covers the Glasgow, Kilwinning, Dalmuir, Motherwell and Paisley areas.
Murray said this showed youth anti-social behaviour was a lot broader than people may have assumed, challenging the perception of boys being predominately involved in such crimes.
She said: "We talk about violence against women and girls, which is a priority.
"We find that a lot of perpetrators are females on females – violence.
"It's another strand of the challenges we have with youngsters.
"In the summer, we have spikes because children are out of school, and invariably we will see heightened tensions with children.
"It's led to some incidents where girls are assaulting girls, but it’s low level.
"We know we have a challenge at times of the year, where our kids will congregate and travel to certain destinations in Scotland.
"I was quite surprised how many travel on certain parts of the network.
"That's quite impacting on other members of the public who are travelling at the same time."
Past cases include three teenage girls assaulting a female between Milngavie and Westerton in Glasgow in August 2020, leaving her with abrasions to her face.
Murray urged parents to help by talking to their children about staying safe, and knowing where they were.
She said: "It's encouraging the conversations and asking your kids: Where are going, have you got your phone, do you have the text number 61016 if you need to get in touch with police?
"When they're that age and perhaps had a drink, they become quite vulnerable.”
One expert source said: “This is about children and safeguarding.
"A WhatsApp group is where things can get out of hand – people saying things that would not be said face to face, like Twitter but for young people.
"The challenge is that often things get to fever pitch but no one sees anything because it’s all in a digital world.”
Karyn McCluskey, chief executive of Community Justice Scotland, which advises ministers, said: “We need to stay engaged in young people’s lives and ask our kids about their online life because this is sometimes where situations can escalate before they move into the real world.
“The work being done by teachers and intervention groups is incredibly important, so young people know there is someone they can speak to about what’s happening.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said: "Across most types of violent crime, a significant number of victims are repeat victims and we are focused on supporting them, with our partners, and bringing perpetrators to justice.”