British Transport Police

Charles Walker calls on the Transport Secretary to ensure that the BTP are given better support from the Courts and that the Courts take criminal activity on trains and buses seriously.

Mr. Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): Is the Secretary of State aware-I am sure that he is-that although the British Transport police do a wonderful job, one of their concerns is that when they catch the young hoodlums who make commuters' lives a misery, those people come before the legal system and are let off with either small fines or no fine at all? Will he have a word with the Department for Constitutional Affairs to ensure that the BTP get the support that they need, and that when they catch serial offenders on trains and other public transport, those people get custodial sentences and are prevented from preying on commuters?

Mr. Darling: I think that I largely agree. Indeed, this matter has been raised before; I think that the last time was in the previous Parliament. The BTP can be helped and supported in catching people, and it is extremely frustrating when judges do not take crimes on the railways seriously. People who are terrorised on trains, or are affected by those who go on to the tracks and put lives at risk, expect the courts to protect them, and the courts should get the right balance between concern about an individual and concern about the rest of us. "