Fear of crime is putting the capital’s black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities off of using public transport according to a Transport for London report.
Published within TfL last summer and released to this site under Freedom of Information laws, the report shows BAME Londoners are more likely to be deterred from using public transport because of a fear of crime than white Londoners.
More than a third (35%) of all BAME Londoners express a fear of crime when getting to the bus/train, significantly higher than white Londoners (21%).
The figure is even higher within the capital’s Asian communities where 45% of respondents to TfL’s survey identified this as a barrier to using public transport.
Asian Londoners are also more likely to fear experiencing crime on a bus or tube, with 40% expressing this as a concern compared to 30% of Black Londoners and just 19% of white Londoners.
BAME Londoners are also concerned about anti-social behaviour. While 30% of white Londoners name this as barrier, it is cited by 46% of Black and 47% of Asian Londoners.
The report notes that “BAME Londoners feel less safe travelling at night than white Londoners when using the train, Tube and when walking. In particular, BAME Londoners are much less likely to say they feel safe when walking after dark than white Londoners (52% compared to 67%)”.
In recent years TfL has invested heavily in high profile patrols on the transport network, including Met Police Safer Transport Teams and Travel Safe Officers on the DLR and London Overground networks.
It has also invested in CCTV systems and operates fully staffed stations across the network and, in his first weeks in office, the Mayor banned alcohol consumption on the Tube in order to tackle anti-social behaviour on the network.
However the report’s findings suggest the measures have failed to reassure a sizeable number of Londoners and passengers.
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and Deputy Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, said the report suggested an “alarming” level of fear in London’s communities.
She said: “One can speculate that the variation in fear of crime is due to such factors as greater dependence on public transport by some communities, however speculation will only get us so far.
“The one thing that is certain is that these Transport for London figures reveal that the fear of crime when travelling is an alarming level for too many Londoners.”
“We need to fully understand why this is the case and the Mayor and TfL must then directly tackle the causes of these poor figures. Public transport should be safe and accessible for all Londoners.”
TfL have been asked to comment.
Updated 8th January 2014
In a delayed response to requests for a comment, Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Deputy Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “This type of research is used by us and our policing partners to inform our community engagement work and our drive to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour to help increase people’s confidence in using the transport network.
“Crime on the transport network has fallen by more than 30 per cent since 2008 and the proportion of people saying that fear of crime on a bus or train is a barrier to them using public transport has reduced significantly for all of London’s communities over the last few years. For white respondents the fall has been 27 per cent since 2008 and for BAME communities the fall has been 24 per cent over the same period. Concern about antisocial behaviour is also significantly down across all communities.
“With fewer than nine crimes for every million journeys, our network is a very low crime environment, but we recognise that for some people the fear of crime can be a barrier to using public transport. We want every Londoner to feel safe and confident to travel in London and that’s why we invest heavily in providing a highly visible policing presence of around 2,500 officers, as well as an extensive CCTV network across all of our services.”