One of the country’s most wanted burglars was among almost 200 arrests made by Greater Manchester’s Travelsafe Unit (TSU) within its first year.
The (TSU) has had a significant impact in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour across the region’s transport networks since it launched, through high visibility patrolling and intelligence-led operations.
As well as making 196 arrests, between 1 April 2015 and 28 February 2016, the unit has boarded 16,234 vehicles and issued 10,313 fixed penalty notices for ticketing offences.
Since the launch, a survey of almost 2,500 people across the bus and Metrolink networks and bus stations showed that:
- 86 per cent of those asked did not fear crime when using public transport
- 94 per cent of those asked said they had never been a victim of crime on public transport
- 85 per cent of those asked said that they would report crime if they witnessed it while using public transport.
Between 1 April 2015 and 28 February 2016, there was an 8% reduction in the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour compared with the same period the previous year. Reported incidents of substance misuse fell by 27% and “other” crimes and incidents by 61%.
However, the overall number of recorded incidents has increased by 14%, with more assaults, criminal damage and incidents of robbery and thefts recorded.
The figures can be explained in part by the recent investment in the region’s public transport network, including the nine-mile, 15-stop Metrolink Airport Line.
The establishment of the TSU itself has led to an increase in public confidence and dedicated intelligence-led operations whereby officers are actively seeking out and tackling incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour, which has also contributed to an increase in reporting.
But the figures also mirror a 14% increase in overall victim-based crime reported across Greater Manchester as a whole in the 12 months to the end of August 2015.
GMP believe the continued increases in victim-based crime are due to increased confidence in the way cases are recorded and handled, which TSU is playing an important role in supporting.
The TSU also focuses on preventative measures and youth education. During the same period, uniformed officers have visited 24 schools and held 138 crucial crew events across the region to educate youngsters on the dangers, impacts and consequences of crime, antisocial behaviour and fare evasion on public transport.
They have also seized alcohol from those found drinking it underage and returned 21 vulnerable children and young adults to their homes.
On 8 August 2015, a man was stopped at New Islington for travelling without a ticket. After failing to disclose his identity, a fingerprint-reading device showed him to be Neville Elliott (04/04/1967), of no fixed address, wanted for multiple offences of burglary and on recall to prison. Elliot, who had previously been circulated on Crimewatch, was arrested and subsequently jailed at Bradford Crown Court.
Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, Peter Cushing, said: “Considering the tens of millions of journeys made across the bus and tram networks every year, public transport is undoubtedly a safe way to travel and the TSU is doing a phenomenal job keeping commuters even safer.
“The increase we’ve seen in the number reported incidents – many of which relate to low-level nuisance behaviour – will, in part, stem from the TSU’s extensive patrolling of the networks and their engagement with our communities, both of which increases confidence in the public to report crime and ASB.
“But they also reflect a trend across Greater Manchester, which reinforces the need to take a proactive, collaborative approach to tackling these issues.
“So we are committed to growing the unit and its first year has already delivered notable successes: from school engagement programmes and addressing fare evasion to drug seizures and notable arrests, including the arrest of a man who was one of the most wanted in the country.
“Everybody has the right to travel without the fear of crime and through the Travelsafe Unit and close partnership working across the board, our aim is to continue to make people feel safe, deter criminality and effectively deal with any incidents that could affect public safety.”
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare said: “We launched the TSU because we wanted people to feel safe on public transport and I’m delighted that it is already having a positive impact on crime and disorder.
“It is important to us that people are able to travel in a safe environment and as the network continues to grow, we will work hard to ensure that incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour do not rise alongside it.
“We would urge anyone who sees any incidents occurring on trams to report them to the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or to Metrolink staff directly.”
The TSU comprises of a team of police constables, police community support officers, special constables and security personnel.
Led by TfGM and Greater Manchester Police (GMP), the scheme allows contributing operators – Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd (MRDL), First Manchester and Stagecoach – to share intelligence as well as crime and antisocial behaviour data.
The scheme has been funded for three years but will be subject to formal annual reviews and regular scrutiny by a strategy group made up of members from organisations involved.