Crime is on the up by 30% in six months across London’s public transport network, according to new numbers from local transport authority, Transport for London (TfL).
On the underground
Overall crime figures on the tube are up by 56% from April to September. Robbery on the underground has risen by 83%, even while passenger numbers have fallen by 11% in the last six months.
The underground line seeing the most offences is the Northern Line, from Edgware and High Barnet, in the north of the city, to Morden and Battersea Power Station, in the south. The line is unique in taking two different routes through central London. It splits into two branches in various places, potentially making it easier for gangs of pickpockets to circulate and train jump.
Both King’s Cross St Pancras, where Eurostar arrivals hit London, and entertainment hotspot Leicester Square are on the Northern Line. The two stations were named among the worst offenders for theft rates. Retail mecca Oxford Circus was also among the worst stations for theft.
On the bus
The bus network experienced a 6% hike in crime. Reports of theft and violence are “higher than expected”, TfL says. The crime rate per million journeys remains about the same due to a rise in bus journeys.
The boroughs guiltiest of the highest incidence of bus-related robberies were Croydon, in south London, Haringey, in north London, and Westminster. Crime is up 14% in Westminster, which draws in huge numbers of tourists with attractions like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
Those taking public transport in London are urged to stay vigilant, avoid busy times at busy stations and take electronic copies of important documents, leaving originals safe in hotels, where possible.
With most transport accessible and payable with a swipe of a debit card, passengers may find themselves with a wallet or purse containing their bank cards and money in their hands or being taken in and out of bags. This is best avoided.
Travel insurance is advised. Speak to transport staff if you have a concern. Important contact numbers include the British Transport Police on 61016 or website, or call 101. In an emergency or if the suspect is still on scene, call 999.
Crime on the agenda
Crime in London is likely to become a political hot potato as general and mayoral elections loom. Commenting on what she termed the “surge in crime”, Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond (Liberal Democrats), said, “Londoners should be able to feel safe on their public transport, yet these shocking figures tell a different story.”
Meanwhile, Mick Lynch, RMT rail union General Secretary said more investment in the transport network was needed and remarked that the “soaring crime rates come as no surprise to Tube workers who are on the frontline every day in this increasingly hostile environment.”
Current Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office said it is a “priority to ensure the transport network remains a safe and low-crime environment” and associated the increased crime figures with “national trends which are rising due to the lower volumes recorded during the pandemic”.