Knife crime on the rail network has more than tripled in the past three years, with British Transport Police (BTP) recording 1,059 offences involving a knife or bladed article last year, up from 338 in 2015.
The number of people caught carrying a knife rose steeply as possession of an offensive weapon increased more than five times from 24 in 2015 to 136 in 2018.
Figures for having an article with a blade or point in a public place rose from 103 in 2015, to 164 in 2016, 222 in 2017, and 387 in 2018.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell from BTP insisted the chance of being a victim of crime on the rail network is “rare”, with 19 crimes recorded for every million passenger journeys in the year to March 2018.
Mr Furnell said: “Tackling any rise in crime and removing weapons from the rail network remains our top priority and nationwide, officers have been working tirelessly in the battle against knife crime.
“In response to a national rise in violence and knife crime, officers have conducted a number of intelligence-led operations, focused on cutting knife crime.
“These operations involve plain clothed and uniformed officers and have been highly successful in knives being seized and surrendered.
“Likewise, these targeted operations act as a deterrent to those intent in carrying weapons, these types of offences will be rigorously tackled and our overriding interest is protecting people who use the rail network.”
A range of offences involving a knife were recorded by the force, including violence against the person, sexual offences, criminal damage, robbery, theft and drug crime.
Violence against the person involving a knife, which includes crimes such as murder, attempted murder, GBH and possession of a bladed weapon, showed a stark increase from 180 offences in 2015 to 695 last year, the figures show. The number had nearly doubled from the 402 offences recorded in 2017.
“It’s comes as no surprise that in a time of brutal cuts to police funding, crime is rising,” Nigel Goodband, Chair of BTP Federation told The Telegraph. “This increase on the railways reflects the worrying rise in knife crime in communities across the UK. I know the proactive approach taken by our colleagues has an impact in identifying offences but it’s not the full story.”
“Policing is being hampered by the Government’s desire to cut spending to the bone. Communities are being harmed by these decisions. Ministers have got to come down from their ivory towers and see what’s happening on the streets.”
The safety of those travelling was brought into fresh focus earlier this month when a 51-year-old man was stabbed to death on board a train travelling from Guildford to London.
IT consultant, Lee Pomeroy, was killed in front of his 14-year-old son after getting into a dispute with another passenger.
A 35-year-old man, Darren Pencille, has been charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, told the Telegraph: “These alarming figures show the utter failure of Tory Ministers to protect people from crimes involving offensive weapons, especially knives.
“The number of dangerous incidents that police forces across the country have to respond to has grown sharply. Yet this Conservative Government has cut their budgets by £700 million, putting officers in ever greater danger.
“The Home Secretary said he is determined to tackle knife crime, but we have yet to see actions to match his words. He should start by urgently investing in community policing and putting more officers on the streets.”
The new figures come after the Telegraph revealed earlier this month that violence on the rail network has soared by 75 per cent over the past five years with experts claiming a lack of ticket barriers at stations is helping to fuel lawlessness on trains.
Oliver Lewis, from the Bring Back British Rail campaign group, said the new figures “underlie the importance of having visible staff on trains and at stations, to ensure the personal safety of the travelling public.”
He added: “For far too long Britain’s privatised railway has had cost savings and economy as its number one priority, de-staffing stations and reducing overall staff levels as much as possible”.