New safety campaign by British Transport Police
Hundreds of children and young adults – as many as 14 a day are risking their lives and those of rail passengers and staff every year by trespassing on railways.
British Transport Police (BTP) says more than half of all railway trespassers are aged between 14 and 25.
The lighter evenings usually show an increase in trespass cases, some of which include vandalism. Between April and June this year, BTP recorded almost 2,400 trespass incidents, of which almost 1,300 involved people aged 25 or younger.
In the coming weeks, under the banner of Operation Intruder, BTP officers will target trespassers at problematic locations around the country. Officers will carry out increased patrols in a bid to try to ward off would-be trespassers who either think the track is a place to hang out or commit vandalism.
BTP is enlisting the help of other police forces and the rail industry, including the use of helicopters, to report trespassers. BTP officers will also report any damage to railway property, such as broken fences, so it can be repaired, helping to stop people gaining access to the track.
Chief Inspector Tom Naughton said: “Children and young adults need to understand the dangers of the railway – that’s the message from British Transport Police as our officers spend the next two months targeting trespassers across the network.
“While taking trespassers through the courts remains open to BTP, the main focus of this campaign is prevention – stopping people getting on the track in the first place.
“Our officers have already visited a number of schools to warn children, face-to-face, of the dangers of straying onto the railway.
“We need parents to play their part, too – making children aware of how dangerous a place the railway can be.”
Three incidents last month highlight the dangers of playing on the line all too clearly:
In Warwickshire, a 16-year-old boy suffered serious burns at Rugby when he made contact with overhead power lines while playing with friends.
A train near Ilkeston in Derbyshire hit a concrete block on the track. Police believe it was put there by a group of children seen nearby. Luckily, no-one on the train was injured.
In Essex, BTP was alerted to three children dawdling on a crossing at Westcliffe-on-Sea. A BTP schools liaison officer has spoken to the children at their school.
Operation Intruder is launched at the same time as Network Rail begins working with ten Football League clubs and the Football League Trust on a series of sports activities to divert young people away from trespassing.
July 28th 2014