Operation Genesis will once again see additional police officers and rail staff working across the Welsh railway network to come to the assistance of all those who need help. Fridays and Saturdays will be particularly targeted, since these are expected to be the busiest days on the network. High-visibility police patrols will be increased both on trains and at stations and plain-clothes officers will also be deployed.
It's not only crime prevention which is being targeted but also reassurance for the travelling public as well as the offer of personal safety advice. Criminal issues being taken into account include sexual harassment, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related disorder. For cases of sexual harassment in particular, members of the public can also download the Railway Guardian app. The app, which is free to install, helps to report crime to British Transport Police and provides information on what to do if sexual harassment takes place on trains or at stations.
While the whole month is expected to be busy, weekends are the times when train services will be most in demand, especially as this year December has five weekends for people to go out and celebrate compared to the same month last year which had only four weekends.
Operation Genesis also took place in December 2022, which saw and overall reduction 0f 17.8% in crime, compared with December 2021. Rail assaults and violent offences both fell by 5% while sexual offences and public order offences both fell 3%. In all, 28 people are arrested on suspicion of a variety of crimes, including being drunk and disorderly, theft, sexual offences, assault, possession of illegal substances, trespass, homophobic abuse and other offences. As many as 109 people were ejected from stations while 100 ‘stop and account' instances took place. ‘Stop and account' means that a police officer stops a member of the public to ask them voluntarily to account for behaviour or actions, or to ask a person what they are carrying, where they are going, what they are doing in the area or any other questions about their conduct. Over the period in question, 155 additional hours of visibility were provided for the public.
BTP Superintendent for Wales, Andy Morgan, said: “Christmas time can be a time of fun and enjoyment for many and we want all those celebrating to have a great time and feel safe, so we will be working with our partners at Transport for Wales to do all we can to ensure this is the case, across Wales.
“Experiencing crime on the rail network is rare and travelling on a train remains one of the safest ways to travel. However, during busy periods throughout December, there are many more people out and about and, inevitably, some people consume too much alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol does affect judgement and people often take greater risks when under the influence and behaviour can deteriorate. Poor behaviour is unacceptable and we will take a zero-tolerance position when this is the case.
“As well as having extra officers on hand across the rail network in Wales, we also want to remind passengers of our discreet text service. Save the number 61016 in your phone in case you ever need our assistance on the railway or you witness an incident.”
Leyton Powell, Transport for Wales Safety, Sustainability and Risk Director, added: “It's great to see so many people coming out to celebrate the festive season and choosing public transport to get you home is an excellent option. This year again we are working with our partners at British Transport Police and our security teams and we will have an enhanced presence at some of our busiest stations. We hope everyone enjoys themselves, but please remember to behave safely and respect other passengers and our staff at all times.”
Georgina Wills, Transport for Wales Customer Delivery and Events Planning Manager, said: “We deal with a lot of events where huge numbers are traveling into key towns and cities by train and Christmas time is no different. Our ultimate goal is to ensure everyone gets to where they need to be and gets home safely.
“We plan weeks and months in advance looking at the times and locations we know it's likely to be very busy and do our best to strengthen services and put extra people out to help where possible. Please be aware that if you have had a bit too much to drink, frontline staff may just ask you to go and grab a water or coffee to ensure you are safe to travel.”
If you see something that doesn't seem right, text BTP on 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency you should always dial 999.