Pickpockets targeted in transport crackdown

The Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC), British Transport Police (BTP), and Transport for London (TfL) are continuing to crack down on pickpockets on public transport in the capital.

Teams of uniformed and plain clothes officers from the MPS and BTP, funded by TfL, are carrying out three days of policing action with particular emphasis on engagement with the public to tackle pickpockets and further reduce theft on the transport system.

The ‘days of action’ run from 10-12 November 2011 and will see STC and BTP Police Officers conducting operations at various locations throughout London in order to reduce and disrupt thefts from people on and around the bus and transport network.

Safer Transport Command will be:

  • Conducting high-visibility patrols through Safer Transport Teams on London buses and at transport hubs, engaging with members of the public and offering crime prevention advice.
  • Carrying out search warrants of known prolific pickpocket suspects.
  • Carrying out covert surveillance of known prolific pickpocket suspects.

BTP officers will be carrying out high visibility patrols at mainline stations, centring on Paddington and Euston as well as Underground stations.

They will be concentrating on the evening peak on the Piccadilly line and on the Central line with high-visibility policing at stations, dedicated train patrol officers and plain clothes pickpocket squad officers. There will be pickpocket enquiry officers in the CCTV hub at BTP force headquarters viewing live feeds and in two-way radio contact with the plain clothes units.

These days of action are also supported by the launch of a new multi-agency marketing campaign, ‘Don’t give them an inch’ which is now live across the transport system as well as on a BTP website, which advises people to keep their valuables secure.

This is part of Project Spiderweb, a major crime reduction initiative between the three partner agencies to maximise enforcement against, and prevention of, pickpocket offences on the transport system over the next 12 months in preparation for a safe and secure 2012 Olympic Games.

Although recorded crime on London’s public transport system is at its lowest since recording began in 2004/5 (with only 10.8 crimes per million passenger journeys on the bus, London Underground and Docklands Light Railway networks), the crime that passengers are most likely to experience on the system is theft, which represents around 50% of all reported crime on the bus and Tube network.

Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor, of the Safer Transport Command, said: “Project Spiderweb is a policing partnership between the MPS Safer Transport Command, British Transport Police and Transport for London to continue to achieve lower crime, fewer victims and increase public confidence in the transport network and increase passenger numbers.

“In addition to our policing tactics to catch perpetrators we will be engaging with members of the public to ensure they are as security conscious as possible and make it even more difficult for thieves to operate on the transport network.

“Our message is clear: if you commit crime on the transport network we will identify you and arrest you.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Newton, of British Transport Police, said: “Our specialist pickpocket squads are out on the network every day spotting pickpockets and arresting them.

“There are also a few simple steps that passengers can take to make sure they don’t become a victim.

“Through our ‘Don’t give them an inch’ campaign we’re reminding people to zip up their bags and keep their valuables out of sight – simple steps to protect against pickpockets.”

Steve Burton, Director of TfL’s Community Safety Enforcement Policing, said: “We take pickpocketing extremely seriously. While the transport system is a safe, low crime environment, theft accounts for approximately 50% of offences. We are committed to tackling theft and protecting the most vulnerable travellers such as older people who are often targeted by thieves. We ask that passengers keep their valuables securely with them.”

Here are some tips to remember when travelling:

  • Keep your possessions with you, fully zipped and out of sight at all times.
  • Never keep your wallet or mobile phone in your back pocket.
  • Keep your handbag over your shoulder diagonally and if possible with your coat covering it.
  • Try to have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so your purse or wallet is out of sight.
  • Stay alert, especially in large crowds, and be aware of the activities of people around you.
  • If you think you may have lost your property, speak to a member of staff on duty.

Report stolen property to a police officer or to a member of staff (reporting an item as being stolen if it has been lost is a criminal offence).

If you see anything suspicious report it to a police officer or member of staff.

Metropolitan Police Website