A senior police officer has admitted that passengers are right to be worried about their safety at some railway stations.
British Transport Police Chief Constable Ian Johnston told MPs that rail station safety was a ‘mixed bag’ with improvements not coming fast enough.
His comments follow findings from the National Audit Office which suggest less than half of all passengers feel safe in small and medium-sized stations, while nearly four out of ten passengers do not feel safe in larger stations.
Mr Johnston told the House of Commons Transport Committee: ‘Some places have improved but some places are pretty grim and people are quite right to be anxious about spending time there. The picture is improving. Overall we are moving in the right direction but not fast enough.’
He said the appearance of police community support officers at London’s Victoria station had, initially, reduced crime there by 25 per cent while the clear-up rate for assaults on rail staff had improved by 85 per cent over the last three years.
Mr Johnston suggested that station safety could be graded, with some stations meeting one standard, others where crime was higher meeting higher standards, and the highest-crime stations having the highest safety standards.
The Transport Committee is currently looking into passenger safety in railway stations and Transport Minister Derek Twigg, who also gave evidence, agreed that the fact that only 200 to 300 of the 2,500 national stations were accredited to the secure station scheme needed to be improved.
But he said there was no ‘one size fits all’ solution to station safety and it was up to train companies to decide what was best for each station.