THE number of sex offences on Scotland’s railways increased last year amid a rise in overall recorded crime for the first time in 11 years.
A total of 1,675 crimes were recorded in 2014/2015, up 1.3 per cent from the previous year’s 1,653, according to figures released by the British Transport Police (BTP).
A guarantee of safety to those using the transport system is both the very least and the most important thing it can offer to themRape Crisis Scotland spokesperson
There were 50 incidents of sexual crime recorded on the railways, up from 36 in 2013/14. This included a rise in the number of sexual offences against women.
The annual figures showed there was a rise in sex crime across Britain’s rail network - with 1,399 recorded last year compared to 1,117 during the previous 12 months.
But the data revealed crime on trains and tubes across England, Scotland and Wales fell for the 11th consecutive year, with an overall drop of more than 8 per cent on the previous year.
This comes despite the slight increase in total crimes north of the border - the first rise in 11 years.
To combat the number of sex crimes on trains and tubes, BTP helped launch Report It To Stop It, an awareness campaign which encourages people to report any incidents.
Deputy chief constable Adrian Hanstock said: “The increased reports we received of sexual offences being committed on the rail network made it clear this issue was a significant concern for people yet was considerably under-reported.
“Members of the public now have a variety of ways to contact us thanks to our text service.
“Since its launch in 2013, more than 16,000 texts have been received from the public, with 8,926 texts being received in 2014/2015, which is an average of nearly 750 a month.”
A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said: “It is very alarming indeed to see such a significant rise in sexual assaults on public transport in Scotland.
“A guarantee of safety to those using the transport system is both the very least and the most important thing it can offer to them, and that must include every possible step to prevent sexual violence.”
A breakdown of the figures showed there were 405 instances of “violence against the person” recorded in Scotland, up from 326 the previous year.
However, thefts of passenger property dropped from 340 in 2013/14 to 299 last year.
Chief superintendent John McBride, divisional commander for the Scotland division of BTP, said: “BTP officers and staff continue to deliver a first-rate service to make sure that all customers and staff arrive safe, secure and on time.
“The figures reflect the excellent work being undertaken, day-in, day-out, by BTP officers and staff.
“There were 93 million passenger journeys in Scotland last year, so it is clear that the chances of becoming a victim of crime are very small.”
In 2004/2005 there were 10,858 victims of crime. In 2014/2015 that figure has fallen to 6,036 - a reduction of 44 per cent.
Over the same period, passenger numbers have increased by about 47 per cent, BTP said.
Mr McBride said the force will concentrate its efforts on reducing the impact of crime and disruption, with a focus on ensuring it counters terrorism, and has an “effective and robust policing presence” for those travelling to football matches and major events.