Po­lice get on board to tackle trans­port crime

Stockport Times West - - NEWS - Char­lotte Cox

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 tram­surf­ing, 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

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