When the Night Tube service finally launched last August, passengers were promised “around 100 officers” from British Transport Police would be patrolling the network to help keep them safe.
The figure came not just from City Hall but also the BTP whose Superintendent Chris Horton told this site that “close to a hundred officers” would deployed to ensure the Tube’s status as “a very low crime environment” is preserved.
Those cops are being funded by “an extra £3.4 million” in funding from Mayor Sadiq Khan who pays BTP to police the Tube, DLR and London Overground.
So how well is BTP doing in providing those extra cops?
I know. You’re ahead of me on this one.
They won’t say.
According to the BTP FOI team:
“It would not be appropriate to release the numbers of officers that work at weekends on London Underground.
“The Night Tube is a specific shift and to provide figures for every month dating back to the commencement of the Night Tube would reveal British Transport Police’s tactics.
“London Underground is a high profile area to criminals. If the regular numbers of officers working the Night Tube were identified, this could reveal weaknesses in the force’s coverage at hub stations which would be of benefit to anyone wishing to commit crime on the network.
“Disclosure of the monthly figures would create an algorithm which could be used to predict future officer numbers. If this figure was identified, there is the potential that crime would increase and lives would be put at risk.”
But hang on, the FOI also accepts that “British Transport Police stated that there would be a minimum of 98 officers per night working on the underground during these periods.”
So how does confirming it’s delivered that number of officers undermine the policing operation?
If knowledge that at least 98 cops were routinely on duty could harm BTP’s ability to police the network it would have been irresponsible to put that figure in the public domain. But they did, so we can conclude it can’t and doesn’t.
And how likely is it that pick pockets are going to try analysing those months when they’ve apparently deployed more than the publicly promised minimum in order to find the optimum night to go out?
Is it possible that the real reason BTP won’t release the figures is it’s not supplying the minimum number of 98 cops and it’s terrified of admitting this in public?
Perhaps the most salient line in the FOI is this: “This figure is in the public domain however no inference should be drawn that this is the actual number of officers per shift.”
Until BTP provides some hard data it would be foolish for any of us to infer the force is delivering on its contract with TfL and supplying the minimum of 98 dedicated Night Tube cops it pledged.
If BTP won’t provide this reassurance to Londoners, City Hall or Transport for London will have to.