By Jamie Williams
THIRY EXTRA police officers are set to patrol Greater Manchester’s transport network in response to tram vandals.
Ten new Police Community Support Officers have been added to the existing squad of 20 to tackle crime and curb anti-social behaviour on the network – and a further 20 are in the pipeline.
This year has seen a number of incidents involving vandals throwing rocks at tram services which has led to injuries to both passengers and drivers, including a driver being left with face and chest injuries after being hit by a rock thrown through the windscreen in May.
Ten officers have now joined the region’s TravelSafe Partnership, a multi-agency effort to help bring order to the Greater Manchester region’s bus and tram network.
Twenty PCSOs started patrolling in summer. With these extra ten offiers, plus a further 20 set to be joining the scheme in the coming months it will bring the total to 50.
The leader of Greater Manchester Police’s section of the partnership, chief inspector Tariq Butt, said: “We’re pleased to welcome additional officers to the TSP, which will allow us to deal with crime and antisocial behaviour more effectively.
“The safety of commuters and transport staff remains paramount and, over the past few months, we’ve been proactively patrolling the network to provide reassurance to passengers and target those causing misery.”
A recent two-week campaign, which started on November 6, led to 56 arrests, 11 missing people being found and 494 fines being issued.
Managing director of KolisAmey Metrolink, Aline Frantzen, said: “Safety is our number one priority for our customers when they’re travelling on Metrolink.
“We’ve demonstrated this with our own investment of 900 additional hours’ security support on the network each week and these new dedicated PCSOs will build on that.
“We’ve seen with the recent two-week campaign that, where we coordinate our efforts, it improves the experience for customers and makes their journeys safer and more pleasant.”
Elisabeth Tasker, managing director at Stagecoach, said: “The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and while instances of crime and antisocial behaviour on our buses continue to be low, these additional officers will support the work of the team to provide a reassuring presence.
“The TravelSafe partnership also ensures we have a joined up approach between all the public transport operators in the region enabling us to benefit from shared intelligence and to target known hotspots.”
Officials stressed that although there is an increase in the number of officers on the transport network, crimes and anti-social behaviour remain rare with 37.8 million journeys made on the bus and tram routes last year.