Shocking figures reveal extent of violence on Islington’s buses

MORE than 70 people were attacked on buses in Islington in the final three months of last year, sparking fears that passengers no longer feel safe.

New figures from Transport for London show that nearly one person every day is suffering violence at the hands of another passenger on Islington’s bus network.

Overall, crime on Islington’s bus network shot up by 13 per cent compared to the same period in 2009, despite claims by London Mayor Boris Johnson that crime on public transport was plummeting.

Sal Idriss, whose 16-year-old brother Nassirudeen Osawe was stabbed to death after a dispute on a bus in Upper Street, Islington, in December 2007, said: “I am really stunned by these figures. We are always hearing about what Boris is supposed to be doing to drive down crime and crimes on buses but it is obviously not working. Since 2007 there is nothing to suggest we are any safer on buses.”

Caroline Russell, from Islington Living Streets, a group that campaigns for pedestrian safety, said: “What are the bus companies and the police doing to reduce these acts of violence? Keeping bus travel as an attractive option is critical for keeping Islington as a civilised place to live.”

As well as the 73 people who were attacked, 159 people were the victims of theft, 25 people were robbed and five were sexually assaulted on Islington buses between October and December last year.

Police are currently hunting a three-man gang who have snatched 14 mobile phones from passengers on night buses in Islington and Camden and beat up two of their victims.

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Islington Council leader Catherine West has raised concerns regarding bus crime with the TfL traffic commissioner Peter Hendy.

“Bus travel seems to where there’s the greatest risk of injury, compared to travelling on the Underground,” said Councillor West. “We need to push the safety message and take enforcement action against bad behaviour.”

The Islington Safer Transport Team, which is funded by TfL, has seven constables and 28 police community support officers who patrol bus stops and board buses in areas such as the Finsbury Park, Angel and the notorious 29 route to protect the public.

Inspector Duncan Greenhalgh, who leads the team, said: “The level of crime has gone up but this can be attributed to more activity in arresting fare evaders who you tend to find are involved in other crimes such as carrying drugs. We have been victims of our own success.

“We do study trends and recently in response to an increase in thefts on the 73 Service along Essex Road we have been actively patrolling the route and buses to reassure the public.”

A TfL spokesman said: “The figures show that levels of bus related crime in the borough remained low and there are around three crimes a day across the whole borough despite the hundreds of thousands of people that travel in Islington everyday.”