Predicted growth in rail passenger numbers
Growth in passenger numbers is accelerating. In 2006, over 1 billion passenger journeys were made for the first time on the national rail network since 1961. Both passenger numbers and the size of the railway infrastructure are forecast to continue to grow. The Government’s White Paper Delivering a Sustainable Railway anticipates a 22.5% increase in passenger demand by 2014, although increases over the last two years (in the region of 6-7% per annum in both years) suggest this is a modest estimate. BTP’s operating environment during 2008-11 will therefore be extremely challenging.
The relationship between passenger growth and crime levels is complex but a more crowded railway provides an environment for higher levels of conflict amongst passengers, and between passengers and staff. Moreover, there is sound academic research which shows a clear relationship between the greater ownership of attractive personal consumables, such as MP3 players and mobile phones, and higher levels of theft and robbery.
New rail infrastructure
Throughout the life of this plan and beyond, the DfT, Transport Scotland, Network Rail and operators will invest heavily to increase the capacity of the railway network. More than 1,300 additional carriages will be provided as well as the Thameslink upgrade, major station works at Birmingham and Reading, new lines opening in Scotland, and an ambitious programme of platform lengthening, power supply upgrades and depot facilities.
The DfT has also indicated that it intends to invest in the region of £150m on the refurbishment of 150 medium-sized stations and BTP will liaise with relevant partners to ensure that it plays a key role in this refurbishment programme particularly in relation to designing out crime and building in benefits for policing. It is important that BTP’s estate is fit for purpose in terms of location and role, including the provision of sufficient custody cells to accommodate a likely increase in productivity in relation to the number of arrests. When new building projects are started, it is vital that consideration is given to providing appropriate facilities for BTP to provide the most effective policing service possible.
In November 2007, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) created a high speed railway line from London through Kent to the Channel Tunnel. BTP officers based at St Pancras will work closely with their partners in the Immigration and Intelligence agencies. The opening of Ebbsfleet International Station in Kent will be accompanied by park-and-ride spaces for 9,000 vehicles which will provide significant challenges for BTP, including the prevention of theft of, and from, motor vehicles.
A growing railway infrastructure, combined with a continuing world shortage of copper, will give added impetus to the current prolific levels of cable theft, and this crime is likely to remain a major challenge for the industry and BTP throughout the life of this plan.
A sustained terrorist threat
The sustained terrorist threat to the railway infrastructure is a long-term issue for BTP. Nationally, the police service will continue to play a vital part in the fight against terrorism together with the security agencies. The counter terrorism work undertaken by BTP will remain vital in tackling the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks against the transport network. The railways have been, and will remain, an attractive terrorist target and the focus of our future policing will reflect this. BTP works closely with Local Resilience Forums to prepare emergency plans and business continuity plans on the basis of risk assessment.
Policing major events: London 2012
In the summer of 2012, the world’s focus will be on London as it stages the Olympic and Paralympic Games. To provide a safe and secure railway environment for those using public transport over the period during which the sporting events take place presents significant policing challenges, which need to be identified and planned for.
Managing the demands generated during the lead up to the Games will be a priority for BTP throughout the duration of this plan. A viable and safe transport infrastructure is essential to the Games’ success. Planning has already begun in partnership with the MPS and other police forces, the ODA, Transec, TfL, LUL and the rail industry.
The growth in the United Kingdom’s economy has had a major impact on the use of leisure time. The opening of the new Wembley Stadium and the redevelopment of the O2 Arena in London are examples of attractive new venues for large groups of people that place further pressure on an already crowded transport infrastructure.
The wider policing agenda
BTP works in partnership with Home Office and Scottish police forces, and interacts with other parts of the criminal justice system in vital ways that ensure that it can police Britain’s railways in an effective and efficient manner. BTP must therefore react to, and be part of, the wider police agenda.
Growing public concern about violence and disorder, legislation such as the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill, and new Government targets within the wider criminal justice system (as well as the emerging policing agenda about localism, managing resources, bureaucracy, collaboration, protective services, and border management), all add to the complex context in which BTP seeks to provide its specialist policing service for the railways.