Clampdown on rail network hate crimes

Matt Litton with Sanaa Shahid
Matt Litton with Sanaa Shahid

Police have launched a fresh crackdown on hate crimes after latest figures revealed there had been dozens on the local rail network.

A total of 76 incidents of physical or verbal abuse of people because of their race, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation have been recorded on North West trains and at stations in the first half of the year.

That includes four specifically in Wigan and others on trains to Manchester, Preston and Liverpool and Crewe that borough passengers will regularly use.

Such incidents were brought into sharp focus only recently when 42-year-old Wigan train guard Matt Litton won an award for intervening in a racist incident.

He caught Alexander MacKinnon telling passenger Sanaa Shahid that she “did not belong” in the first-class cabin and that she “shouldn’t be in this country at all.”

Matt told MacKinnon: “We’re not going to accept it. You’re drunk and racist and you need to get off the train,” before eventually kicking him off the carriage.

MacKinnon pleaded guilty to a racially aggravated public disorder offence at court and was fined more than £1,000.

Yesterday BTP officers and staff from across the North West reinforced the message that everyone has the right to travel safely whatever perceived differences from other people there may be.

Officers were at key stations across the region talking to passengers, rail staff and members of the public about the #WeStandTogether campaign, an initiative designed to stamp out hate crime on public transport.

Insp Granville Sellers said: “Everyone has the right to travel safely and not to be targeted, simply because of who they are or because of who you or your friends and family are, or who people think they are.

“Any victimisation or intolerance that is driven by hatred will have a significant and often much greater emotional and psychological impact on those involved, but offences that are motivated by hate and prejudice also have the wider potential to divide communities.

“Particularly after the recent horrific events in Manchester and London, now more than ever, we need to stand together to address hatred and extremism.

“There is never any excuse and we take our responsibility to investigate this type of crime, and provide full support to victims of hate crime extremely seriously.”