London Underground Central Line
There were 2,100 criminal offences on the Central Line in 2014 Getty

Central Line passengers are being targeted by pickpocket gangs operating on the the London Underground, giving it the worst crime rate on the Tube network.

There were 2,100 offences on Central Line Tube carriages in 2014 and only 12 on the Waterloo and City Line – the line with the fewest offences – and theft was the most common crime.

Figures obtained by IBTimes UK from Freedom of Information requests revealed British Transport Police recorded 15,635 offences across the Underground as well as Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and Overground services.

The Piccadilly Line had the second worst crime rate on the network with 1,924 and commuters were most likely to be victims of crime in January.

Overall, the crime rate on the London Underground has fallen in recent years – down from 17,828 in 2012 and 19,223 in 2013 – to 15,635 in 2014.

London Underground crime statistics

Figures from the last three years show criminals were consistently most active on the 46-mile (76km) Central Line, which runs from West Ruislip, north-west London, to Epping, Essex, at its farthest points – a distance of 34 miles (55km) – and travels through busy central London.

Between 2012 and 2014, there were 7,490 offences on the 49-station line that spans west to east London. The Piccadilly Line had the second worst rate over the same period (6,756) and the Northern Line the third worst (6,011).

In contrast, the Waterloo and City Line, popular with City workers who travel into the capital from the suburbs, saw 29 offences, while the DLR had 2,056.

London Underground crime

Superintendent Chris Horton of the British Transport Police said the volume of passengers using the Central Line meant there were more targets for criminals.

"The Central Line is the second highest capacity line after the Northern Line and in general there are constantly increasing numbers of passengers. Fifteen per cent of all passenger journeys are on the Central Line. In that sense, it is inevitable you will see more crime on that line than others," Horton said.

"But there are also some nuances to the Central Line. For example, it has the old rolling stock and does not have CCTV. There are also significant stations along the line, such as Bank, Liverpool Street and Stratford, which increase passenger volume. These are some of the challenges we face but it does not stop us detecting things like pickpocketing or sexual offences."

Central Line London Underground
The Central Line accounts for 15% of London Underground journeys Getty

In the 2013-14 financial year, 1.265 billion people used the Underground, meaning the crime rate was one offence for every 67,883 people.

Horton explained passengers on the Central Line – and the rest of the Underground network in general – were most likely to fall victim to thieves.

"Forty per cent of all crime on the London Underground is theft of passengers' property. It was 50% but we are continuously driving that type of crime down.

"It is a particularly nasty crime as it is an invasion of the victim's privacy and it affects their perception of London. We are really targeting organised crime groups who make good money from the theft of property."

Horton said BTP recognised the Tube network's crime hot spots but pointed out that since April, there have been 360 offences on the Central Line, down 2% on 2014.

And while passengers might be perturbed by crime statistics, the superintendent added there were just 6.7 crimes per million journeys on the Underground, which he said, compared to some London boroughs, was a "haven of safety".