Crime on London’s public transport network has jumped nearly 30 per cent in a year, fuelled by criminal pickpocket gangs and passengers suspected of making fake theft claims.
A total of 16,699 incidents were reported between July and September, compared with 12,911 in the same period a year earlier. That equates to an average of 183 crimes a day.
Almost half of the incidents were on the Tube, where there was a 41.5 per cent increase in crime, according to Transport for London. This included a near doubling of thefts to 4,109 incidents. There was also an 18 per cent increase in violence to 1,467 attacks.
Crime on buses increased by 20 per cent, with theft up by a third and robbery up 73 per cent.
TfL says crime is low — there were 629 million Tube journeys and 993 million bus journeys over the same period — but admits the number of reported incidents has been rising since 2014-15 after a decade of successive reductions.
“Victims are being followed from the bank and targeted on the bus or in other busy places,” TfL said. “We know that our public transport networks are being targeted by prolific thieves working as part of organised criminal networks.”
TfL believes that making it easier to report crimes online to British Transport Police has encouraged more victims to come forward.
But sources said there were suspicions that the “huge surge” in theft was being fuelled by passengers falsely claiming to have lost phones to make insurance claims for new models.
About 2,000 BTP and Met police officers patrol the transport network, funded with £140 million from TfL.
Siwan Hayward, head of policing for TfL, said they have been asked to “focus on the highest harm offences”, including knife crime, violence, hate crime and sexual offences.
Caroline Pidgeon, Lib-Dem London Assembly member, said: “Explaining away these startling statistics by claiming that previously unreported crimes are now being reported is no excuse.”
Conservative crime spokeswoman Susan Hall said: “The increase in crime on the Underground has to be tackled. We need to have CCTV on all trains.”