More than 60 police officers will make up a new and dedicated unit that transport bosses say will help keep the public safe as they travel.
The team will replace 50 Police community support officers as part of a new transport unit, which is expected to launch in the winter and will replace the current TravelSafe Unit.
A spokesman for Transport For Greater Manchester (TFGM) said the team will provide a proactive policing presence across the region’s transport network. And work as part of the broader TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) – which includes Transport for Greater Manchester and operators – to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour (ASB) and improve public confidence and road safety.
For the first time, the unit will provide a response function to deal with ongoing crimes and incidents affecting public transport the spokesman said.
The changes are being partly-funded through an increase in local council tax, and the spokesman said it is a response to residents’ calls for tougher policing on the transport network. The MEN reports that the hike will see the average Band D households pay £24 more this year, which will raise an extra £18m for the force.
Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Bev Hughes, said:
“When members of the public use the transport system they have an absolute right to expect that they will be safe. And people will not use public transport unless they feel safe and know they’ll be safe. That’s why we have taken action to strengthen even further the security of the system.
“This investment in the TravelSafe Unit will enable tougher enforcement across the transport network, stopping offenders in their tracks and keeping the public safe.
“Significantly, for the first-time, the unit will have the capability to respond to crimes in action and help restore the transport network following disruption.
“I hope this new unit will reassure all those who use our roads and public transport systems that their safety and wellbeing is my absolute priority.
“I also want to thank the PCSOs who have done great work over the last two years. Now they can bring their skills and experience to the wider community, as we bolster neighbourhood policing across Greater Manchester.”
A spokesman for TFGM said the TSP will take an intelligence-lead, problem-solving approach to tackling crime and ASB, including proactive operations and ‘target hardening’ measures.
The partnership also benefits from TFGM and Metrolink’s control rooms, which have an extensive range of CCTV cameras that are monitored 24/7.
A spokesman for TFGM said TravelSafe ran a successful operation between August 13 and 26 named ‘Operation Infinity’. The spokesman said the operation was launched in response to ongoing complaints of criminal and antisocial behaviour on the Oldham and Rochdale Metrolink line.
Joint intelligence was used to deploy officers and staff across the line at specific times to deter and disrupt criminality. Officers were supported by partner resources, including GMP’s Mounted Unit and Oldham Council’s Youth Engagement Officers. It resulted in 13 arrests, 105 intelligence submissions and 153 young people being spoken to. Metrolink staff also issued over 2,600 revenue enforcement tickets.
The spokesman said the long-term impact of the operation has seen crime and antisocial behaviour on the line fall significantly. For example, the four months prior to the operation (May – August) saw 170 recorded incidents, compared to just 97 incidents during the four months after the operation (September – December). This has continued into 2019, with 136 incidents recorded from January to April compared to 176 in the same period in 2018, a 23 per cent drop.
Also published on Medium.