Police get on board to tackle transport crime
ASUPER squad of police and security officers will patrol trams and buses wearing cameras – in a major crackdown on criminals and troublemakers.
The Travelsafe Unit, launched today, is the first full-time dedicated force to be assigned to trams and buses in Greater Manchester.
The 16-strong band of police constables, PCSOs, specials, and security experts will carry out regular patrols in a three-year pilot.
Their body-cameras will boost CCTV evidence in court hearings for crime and anti-social behaviour – which could see offenders slapped with public transport banning orders.
Tram safety has been a hot topic, with repeated vandalism attacks in recent months costing thousands of pounds and disrupting the network.
Our sister paper the M.E.N. revealed last summer a shocking three-year history of vandalism, crime and assault on drivers.
It included missiles being thrown at trams and drivers, many breaking cab windows – and 74 assaults.
The M.E.N. has also received reports of tram-surfing, yobs setting fire to seats and people throwing rocks on the tracks.
One dad of a concerned tram driver said: “Every month trams are bricked and rocks are thrown on the line to derail trams.
“They set fire to seats and surf the trams. Drivers are assaulted and abused. My son loves Metrolink but the intimidation is horrendous.
“I welcome this move, finally they are doing something..”
TfGM and GMP will use crime data from tram and bus operators to target hotspots at key times.
Preventing bad behaviour is also a goal, with uniformed officers visiting schools to warn pupils of the consequences.
The tram network had its own dedicated policing unit until 2008, when it was axed after transport chiefs withdrew funding.
In 2013, following an horrific attack on a dad who boarded a tram at Old Trafford, Metrolink bosses drafted in a squad of private security specialists to tackle troublemakers on football matchdays and major events.
But they have since been phased out. There have also been GMP patrols and TfGM has funded special constables, as well as encouraging its staff to become specials too.
But this pilot takes safety to a new level.
Chief Spt John O’Hare from GMP said Greater Manchester’s public transport network had grown, adding: “Unfortunately this can also attract criminals or inconsiderate people who, by acting in an antisocial manner, can make others feel intimidated.
“Everybody has the right to travel without the fear of crime and our aim through the Travelsafe Unit is to make people feel safe, deter criminality and effectively deal with any incidents that could affect public safety.”
New teams are to patrol Metrolink and bus services
Yobs attacked this tram with a brick in January