‘Big brother’ CCTV reduces train crime says Barking transport sergeant

PUBLISHED: 18:00 18 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:06 19 May 2015

Sgt Michael Buke outside Barking station

Sgt Michael Buke outside Barking station


Thanks to round-the-clock policing and a “big brother” surveillance system a criminal should think twice before acting unlawfully on the trains.

The warning comes from a British Transport Police (BTP) sergeant who has worked on the Barking to Gospel Oak line for more than five years.

Michael Bute is based in an office on platform one of Barking station where the BTP provide a policing service for the train companies and public.

According to Sgt Bute, the most common crimes are thefts, assaults, sexual offences and cycling crimes – and the team target anti-social behaviour the most.

“It’s the most prevalent crime and on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday it’s often drink-related,” he told the Post.

“We’ve got an excellent CCTV system which is a huge deterrent. They know if they commit a crime they will be caught on camera and we robustly prosecute.

“They are excellent images we capture so if an incident occurs we download them. It’s a bit like big brother, we have someone monitoring it all the time.”

He said after releasing images to local media it’s roughly a 70 per cent conviction rate and the CCTV is so clear “it’s as good as television quality.”

The 54-year-old said oyster card data can also be used to track criminals, but in doing so they must make sure privacy is not infringed.

The Overground line is covered by the BTP from the first train at 7am to the last train at midnight.

Sgt Bute patrols in “hot spot areas” which are high crime zones where it’s believed police presence will lead to a reduction in crime.

He said crime on rail networks has fallen significantly in the last 10 years because of the increased patrols and the “BTP’s significant increase in man power.”

The most shocking and upsetting incidents are passengers taking their own lives, he added.

“I was shocked to find out how prevalent this was. We never trivialise people who threaten do it.”

He said there are indicators BTP look out for on patrol, such as people who stay on the platform after a train comes and goes or those who look like they are suffering from anxiety or depression.

“We work closely with the Samaritans and encourage them to seek help.”

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