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Parents warned of rail line dangers

PUBLISHED: 03:20 18 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:07 03 March 2010

PARENTS are today being urged to educate their children about the devastating consequences of playing on the railways.

With the summer holidays nearing and children having hours of spare time on their hands it is inevitable there will be a surge in crime on the network and that some children will end up dicing with death by playing chicken with the trains.

PARENTS are today being urged to educate their children about the devastating consequences of playing on the railways.

With the summer holidays nearing and children having hours of spare time on their hands, it is inevitable there will be a surge in crime on the network and that some children will end up dicing with death by playing chicken with the trains.

In an effort to combat this problem the railway industry has today launched a new zero tolerance approach to tackling crime on the line.

This week – known in the industry as national route crime week – has been chosen as the launch of the new campaign because it coincides with national child safety week.

The emphasis of route crime will be on the criminal nature of vandalism and trespass which are potentially the most serious and catastrophic types of crime across the network and which pose the biggest risk to safety.

Pc Phil Harrod of British Transport Police at Ipswich, said: "With the summer holidays looming we would urge parents to be aware of where their children are playing. It's vital children are warned of the dangers associated with playing on the railway.

"Those who go on the track are not only putting their own life at risk but also endangering the lives of others."

Although vandalism is not considered a major problem in this region it is nonetheless a concern.

Since June 1, 2001 to May 31, 2002 there have been 36 reported offences of trespassing on the track and 18 reported incidents of obstructions on the line in Suffolk.

This more aggressive stance by the rail industry will see them working closely with the legal system to provide stiffer sentences for criminals, some of which carry a penalty of life in imprisonment.

The British Transport Police in Ipswich covers an area of 2,000 square miles, covering all of Suffolk and part of Essex.

"Trespassing on the railway is not just a crime committed by children.

"People of all ages are guilty of using the track as a short cut and some people even use it to walk their dog," said Pc Harrod.

He continued: "Anybody on the track is breaking the law.

"Last year we had 36 reported incidents of trespassing but this figure in reality could probably be doubled."

Obstructions on the line is also a problem for the industry and stones, old railway sleepers and wheelie bins are just some of the objects which are deliberately put on the track.

Sometimes it can be too late before an object on the track is reported and often it is usually the train drivers who reports them often after they have hit them.

"The mind boggles at the size of items put on the track and the mentality of the people who do it.

"There's scientific evidence proving even the smallest of items can cause a train to derail.

"It depends on the speed and weight of the train as to what potentially might happen but ultimately the reality is that it people could be killed.

"In Suffolk over the past 12 months there were 18 reported incidents of objects on the line. Each of these crimes has the potential to kill innocent people," said Pc Harrod.

Vandalism also includes people throwing things at moving trains.

"If a stone brakes the window of the train is can cause horrific injuries for passengers who are showered with broken glass.

"Drivers have also been hit and this is also extremely dangerous as the train could be without a driver and some drivers have been so badly injured they have never driven again," said Pc Harrod.

The British Transport Police rely on incidents being reported enabling them to step up patrols in that area.

If you see anything suspicious near the railway, please report it to the British Transport Police.

Weblinks

www.trackoff.org

www.crimeofftheline.org

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