London

British Transport Police ends plan to scrap Tube sex crime unit

People departing Tube train in station
Image caption The Sexual Offence Unit was originally set up to tackle crimes on the London transport network

A specialist policing unit which investigates sexual offences on the Tube will not be disbanded the British Transport Police (BTP) has confirmed.

BTP said it had "unintentionally caused concern" by suggesting a new operating model, which meant all officers would investigate sexual offences.

It said it would now carry out an "urgent review" of its plans.

The number of sex crimes reported on London transport rose by over a third last year.

The Sexual Offence Unit was originally set up to tackle crimes on the London transport network.

Image copyright British Transport Police
Image caption The number of sex crimes reported on London transport rose by over a third last year

In response to the news, the group End Violence Against Women (EVAW), said: "Good on British Transport Police for listening and having a re-think".

EVAW had previously said losing the unit would "dilute the expertise" required to tackle sex crime.

Figures released recently showed that between April and December 2015, police received 1,603 reports, compared with 1,117 complaints in the same period the year before.

An internal risk assessment by Transport for London (TfL) has also suggested that the introduction of the Night Tube will lead to a rise in sexual offences on the Underground.

In Japan, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany, seats and carriages are reserved for women on public transport to protect them from sexual harassment.

Last August, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sparked debate when he said he would consider introducing segregated carriages in Britain to stem the rise in assaults on public transport.

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