METRO stations across Sunderland were today labelled “safe” despite figures showing 236 crimes on the rail system last year.
The highest number of incidents were reported at Sunderland Station in the city centre, where you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of crime than any other Wearside station.
But despite more than four crimes a week taking place at the station - 80 a year - police today described the figures as “low” and warned that “crime statistics are not always accurate indicators of levels of crime.”
Second to Sunderland Station was Pallion Station where 35 crimes were reported in 2012, followed by South Hylton with 29, and St Peter’s with 25.
The majority of incidents committed at these stations fall into the category of “public order” offences, but more serious incidents include reports of four sexual offences at Sunderland Station and 19 incidents of violence across the system.
British Transport Police (BTP) today insisted that, taken in context, the figures in Sunderland remain low.
A spokesman said: “These low figures, against of backdrop over five million journeys made across the Sunderland line of the Tyne and Wear Metro each year, show that Sunderland’s Metro system is safe and, with fewer than five incidents a week, the chances of becoming a victim of crime are extremely low.
“However, we’re not complacent. Passengers and rail staff rightly expect a safe and secure rail network and we’ll continue working hard to carry on delivering a safer travelling environment for all.
“BTP has a dedicated team of officers, based at Sunderland station, which continues to take a proactive approach in its policing.
“Our high arrest figures also show that, when crimes are committed on trains or at Metro stations, officers will carry out extensive enquiries to identify those responsible and the chance of getting away with crime on the Metro is extremely low.
“The Metro system is well equipped with excellent and clear CCTV, which is essential in officers’ investigations.
“Images are often placed in the Sunderland Echo in order to identify those wanted in connection with crimes.”
Metro user Anne Fearon, 45, of Pallion, said: “I don’t mind using Sunderland Station, even though it’s a bit of a mess.
“What I don’t like is the quieter stations, when you get off and their are kids hanging about, especially at night.”
Sharon Kelly, customer services and operations director at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates the Metro on behalf of Nexus, said efforts are continually being made to make travellers feels safe.
She said: “Our staff carry out roving patrols, plain clothes operations and other work with the police to ensure our stations in Sunderland are safe for the thousands of people who use them every day.
“Our safety record was recognised recently with the award of Safer Tram Stop status for stations in the city and Metro invests several hundred thousand pounds each year to fund police patrols on the Sunderland line.”
Head of communications at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “Sunderland has a very low level of crime and disorder for a city centre station with two and a half million passengers a year that also catered for two football derby matches and three major rock concerts in 2012 – but this reflects the low level of crime on Sunderland’s railways as a whole.
“The reason Sunderland station has the highest number of offences is because it is by far the busiest in the city – up to ten times busier than some stations - and because it is close to bars, clubs and take-aways.”