London is very nearly a 24-hour city. For many, the introduction of the Night Tube later this year will be the final piece in the puzzle.
But with this evolution, comes challenges. Not least for the police and maintaining the current relatively low crime rates on London’s transport networks.
Transport for London (TfL) has said the Night Tube will be patrolled by a minimum of 100 police officers from the British Transport Police. But is this enough to ensure the safety of passengers at the 144 stations that will be open all night?
A further concern is the worrying rise in the number of reported sexual offences across the transport network last year. Sexual offences rose by 30 per cent compared to the previous year.
A survey by TfL found that around 15 per cent of Londoners had experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the transport network, and 90 per cent of victims did not report it to the police. Will the Night Tube exacerbate this problem?
The police and TfL have already taken proactive steps to tackle the rise in sexual offences. In 2013, the Met Police, TfL, the British Transport Police and City of London Police launched a joint initiative called Project Guardian.
Its aim was to reduce sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport and to increase public confidence in reporting it.
The rise in reported sexual offences could be a result of the work of Project Guardian, with more victims feeling reassured enough to come forward. But as London emerges as a truly 24-hour city, the police and TfL know they cannot afford to be complacent.
The London Assembly Police and Crime Committee has launched an investigation to examine the work of Project Guardian and the potential risks linked to the introduction of the Night Tube.
We will also explore how the growth of London’s population in the coming years will place increasing demands on the transport system. According to TfL, demand for the tube has soared, with passenger numbers on Friday and Saturday nights up by 70 per cent since 2000.
We are aware of the important role the taxi and private hire industries play in London’s public transport network. However, a lack of licensed taxi and private hire services can lead people to make unsafe transport choices. Crime associated with these services is also a concern.
In particular, a report by the London Assembly Transport Committee, Future proof, found there were issues with the shortage of taxi ranks, touting, the lack of enforcement against illegal activity and whether resources are being targeted effectively.
There are clearly many questions to be answered so we welcome contributions from anyone with a view on these areas of investigation.
You can find out more by visiting our website or you can get in touch with our Scrutiny Manager firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanne McCartney AM is Chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime on Committee.