Crime

What ORR does to combat crime on the railway. We have a role in ensuring that Network Rail and rail operators do all that is reasonably practicable to manage the risk of crime.Route crime

Crime is the cause of most deaths to members of the public on Britain's railways. Many of these deaths are suicides, but a significant number are accidental deaths due to trespass.

In comparison, vandalism makes a much smaller contribution to overall crime risk. However, acts of vandalism (such as placing obstructions on the track) are of concern because they can lead to damage, injury, or catastrophic derailment with the potential for multiple passenger fatalities.

Assaults on rail staff are generally considered separately.

What are we doing to combat crime?

We have a role in ensuring that Network Rail and rail operators do all that is reasonably practicable to:

  • prevent unauthorised access to the network;
  • make sure the track is kept clear of lineside materials (which can be used in acts of vandalism); and
  • ensure risks to the travelling public are reduced. British Transport Police (BTP) lead on matters of criminal damage and the application of railway by-laws on trespass. The civil police may be involved in issues involving vandalism from beyond the railway boundary.

We work closely with rail industry partners to ensure a targeted and coordinated approach to further reductions in crime.

What else are we doing?

As the safety and economic regulator of Britain's railways, we maintain a clear focus on ensuring that all rail industry parties comply with their legal obligations under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act to reduce risks to the general public, so far as is reasonably practicable. This obligation extends to the prevention of trespass and vandalism on the railway.

We work closely with rail industry partners to ensure a targeted and coordinated approach to further reductions in crime, with a particular focus on risks to children and derailment risks caused by obstruction of the line by vandals.

Do duty holders have any responsibility?

As well as the law on vandalism enforced by BTP and the civil police, rail operators have legal duties under health and safety law, which we enforce.

Railway infrastructure controllers (Network Rail on Britain's mainline rail network but also London Underground) have a general duty Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to reduce risks 'so far as is reasonably practicable'.

As part of this duty, they are required to take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent unauthorised access to the infrastructure and to ensure that public safety is not endangered through the presence of uncontrolled railway material left near the track where vandals might use it.

Vandalism

Vandalism can range from damaging railway equipment, to throwing missiles at train cab windows, to obstructing the track. Vandalism is a major cause of train delays and cancellations and accounts for a large proportion of all reportable railway incidents. These incidents are of serious concern because they can lead to damage, injury and/or derailment. The figures for the last five years are below.

 CollisionsDerailmentsRunning into obstructionsFires in trainsMissile damage
2008-09007023245
2009-10104417163
2010-110047998
2011-1200451667
2012-1301271272

A clear seasonal pattern is generally evident: reports of vandalism usually peak in April at over twice the number of incidents seen in December. The spring peak was less pronounced in 2012/13 than in previous years.

Between early 2003/04 and early 2009/10, reported vandalism fell by around 45%. Between then and late 2011/12, the annual moving average number of recorded incidents decreased less rapidly, although there was a further substantial decrease during 2012/13, to around 40% of the rate at the end of 2003/04.

The reduction has mainly been due to falls in the incidents of missiles thrown or fired at and obstructions placed on the line. Arson also decreased but its contribution to the total number is relatively small. Improvements in rolling stock have meant that train windows are now more resistant to breakage, and train materials are less flammable.