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Gangs are hanging out at train stations "waiting to exploit" vulnerable young children who may have fled a chaotic home life, an MP told Good Morning Britain.
Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman said: "They might have come off the trains, they might just gather at the station - but there are gangs waiting to exploit them."
A rise in violent and sexually related crime at train stations has lead to a call for a "higher police profile" from the rail workers union.
Commenting on a report on vulnerable children at railway stations, Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said:
While we welcome the overall fall in railway crime, we are concerned about the worrying rise in serious crime, assault, up 6%, racially aggravated, up 13% and sexual offences, up 21%.
We would like to see a higher police profile at stations and on trains which would act both as a deterrent whilst also providing security and reassurance for the travelling public.
According to a report from the Transport Select Committee, between April 2012 and 2013:
- British Transport Police (BTP) had picked up 90 runaway children at Euston main line station.
- A further 185 runaway children at King's Cross stations.
- Some 115 at Paddington, 239 at Liverpool Street and 140 at Euston Underground station.
- However, the report added: "The BTP told us that the problem is not confined to London and that its officers encounter vulnerable children and young people in major railway stations across Britain."