Police and transport staff are warning of the dangers and consequences of throwing objects at buses, trains and trams following a spate of incidents.
The warning comes as three buses had their windows smashed in Salford, Wigan and Manchester last night, with Altrincham and Bury interchange toilet facilities also vandalised.
And last Friday, a Northern train driver was injured after a brick was thrown through a train window as it was travelling towards Clifton. The operator is now offering a £1,000 reward to anyone who can help to identify the person responsible.
All incidents are now being investigated by the TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) – made up of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), British Transport Police (BTP), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and operators – with officers now reviewing footage to identify those involved and using combined operator intelligence to target patrols.
The TSP use a range of tactics to help keep passengers safe and deter incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour, such as the 5,000 hours that police officers and transport staff spend every week patrolling our networks, or the 3,800 CCTV cameras that feed into TfGM and Metrolink’s control rooms that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Ahead of the half term break next week, the TSP is encouraging parents to know what their children are up to and to discuss the dangers and consequences associated with throwing objects at moving vehicles.
Superintendent Julie Ellison from GMP’s Specialist Operations Team, said: “Objects being thrown at a moving vehicle can cause significant damage, as well as cause the driver to lose control and possibly cause a collision. There is no excuse for this behaviour, which is putting the lives of others at risk.
“I would ask those who are thinking about doing such a thing, to contemplate the potentially devastating consequences that that one moment could have, not only for those who could be seriously injured or even killed, but for themselves, as our officers will take appropriate enforcement action against anyone caught throwing items at a vehicle.
“As half-term approaches, I would also like to ask parents for their support. It’s important that you know where your children are going and talk to them about the consequences of this dangerous behaviour.”
The vast majority of journeys are completed safely across Greater Manchester each day, but when an incident does occur passengers can be reassured it is treated with the upmost seriousness, with steps taken wherever possible to prevent further occurrences, with investigations into these incidents continuing.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “Crime and anti-social behaviour occurring on our public transport network, throwing objects at moving trams and buses, intimidating passengers and crews, is wholly unacceptable – it can make travelling an unpleasant experience, deterring people from using our trains, trams and buses. All residents and staff on our public transport in Greater Manchester are entitled to feel safe and comfortable.
“That is why we are taking steps to crack down on such aggressive, dangerous, and often illegal, behaviour through the proactive work of Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) Transport Unit and TravelSafe officers. The police are also renewing their drive to tackle anti-social behaviour, with a 25% increase in arrests by GMP since August. Steps to channel GMP resources onto neighbourhood policing across Greater Manchester, which will include a focus on tackling anti-social behaviour in all our communities, are also well under way.”
Figures show that buses across the city-region have reported more than 100 incidents of missiles being thrown over the past 12 months, while objects were thrown at Metrolink trams more than 150 times.
In some cases, the attacks on buses result in services being diverted or withdrawn from certain routes, impacting the wider community by potentially isolating those reliant on buses for essential travel.
Since October, the Partnership has held 40 specialist operations (targeting known issues and location hotspots) across 24 different locations and also runs an extensive engagement programme, visiting schools and colleges across the city-region to warn of the dangers and consequences associated with crime and antisocial behaviour. Since August this engagement has reached over 30,400 young people.