A shocking number of crimes on trains or rail lines were committed in Fife during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, new figures have revealed.
Statistics obtained by the Scottish Conservatives via a Freedom of Information request confirmed that 175 incidents were reported aboard trains or on or around rail lines from March 23 to December 22 last year – despite many services not running or subject to restrictions as the virus spread across the country.
Among the misdemeanours noted across the length and breadth of the Kingdom were instances of trespass, assault of an emergency worker, theft, vandalism, common assault and stone throwing.
Exactly why the Fife numbers are so high remains unclear, but the number was treble that recorded in neighbouring Perth and Kinross (53) over the same period.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser commented: “The number of crimes committed on trains or rail lines in Fife during this period is very concerning indeed, particularly as they took place during the pandemic when rail services have been reduced and we have been in lockdown for part of that period.
“It is extremely worrying to know that many people were caught trespassing on rail lines in Fife.
“This is highly dangerous and completely irresponsible – it shows a complete disregard for someone’s own safety along with that of rail staff.”
His colleague Liz Smith described the figures as “alarming” and expressed concern about the impact it was having on already stretched resources.
“It appears that those involved had nothing better to do during the pandemic than trespass on rail lines, assault rail staff and get involved in vandalism,” she added.
“The total number of rail crimes committed in Fife in just eight months is a lot in normal times, but it is difficult to comprehend this figure during the pandemic.
“It also puts rail staff and British Transport Police under pressure in having to deal with this nonsense.”
British Transport Police Detective Sergeant Peter McAndie said officers were working hard to keep people using the railways safe, but also urged parents and carers of children to remind them in particular of the extreme dangers posed by the railway.
“The railway has always been a draw for children, but it is an extremely dangerous environment and it’s certainly not a playground,” he said.
“We see hundreds of people taking risks on and around the railway every year, resulting in tragic consequences or life-changing injuries. Both of these outcomes are avoidable.”