Monday, 19 May 2008

Train security crackdown: 566 arrests

A crackdown on Sydney train crime resulted in 619 charges over three months.

Operation Vision III, which involved 1600 rail and police officers targeting crime on and around trains, ended on Saturday, having seized 63 weapons, arrested 566 people and issued 5805 infringements notices.

The operation, a joint campaign between police and transit officers, targeted crime hot spots on the network, especially assault, theft and robbery.

The results come six weeks after assaults and sexual assaults on train passengers were on the rise, with stations in the CBD and in Sydney's west and south-west the most dangerous in the state.

The five locations with the highest number of bashings were Sydney's City Circle stops, Blacktown, Campbelltown, Parramatta and Penrith stations in early April.

Figures obtained via freedom-of-information laws showed assaults on and around trains and stations increased by 12 per cent to 1329 cases in the 12 months to last November. That represents about 25 bashings a week.

Over 800 people had been arrested during the three Vision operations since last July and plans for another operation are already underway.

"Over recent times we've learnt that intelligence-based policing is far more effective on the rail network," the transport minister, John Watkins, said.

It was not about a reduction in security staff on trains - though he did admit the government had "retired" a plan to have security guards on every train - but about focusing resources where they were most needed, he said.

"We do have transit [officers] and police out there ... but based upon intelligence as where they should be most."

"Just having a security presence on every train, we've learnt, isn't the most effective deployment of our resource."

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