School’s In

West Midlands Police will be on hand from next week to help children get to school safely.

Twenty zoneStarting senior school can be a daunting challenge if you’re an eleven year old, especially if you’re using public transport. But West Midland Police will be on hand to help when the schools go back next week.

Officers from the force’s Safer Travel team will be accompanying pupils on buses, trains and trams during the first two weeks of term to ensure they stay safe. They’ll pay particular attention to new secondary school starters who are making unfamiliar trips and who may not be accustomed to using busy public transport routes.

Sergeant Lee Wiggan from the West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership which also includes PCs from British Transport Police, plus transport authority Centro and National Express said: “The operation sees police and colleagues from partner agencies escorting students onto bus routes and at busy public transport interchanges.

“Following the summer holidays it’s likely many students travelling into Birmingham will be in possession of new equipment like mobile phones, iPods and laptop computers. Although we’ve taken giant strides to cut crime on the transport networks over recent years there may still be opportunist thieves hoping to take advantage of anyone flashing valuable gadgets who are perceived easy targets.

“Around 50 officers will take part in the operation. In addition to ensuring students enjoy a safe journey we’ll also been encouraging the youngsters to be ‘street savvy’ and offering advice on how to prevent them becoming crime victims. The operation has enjoyed great success for several years now with the general public, not just school pupils, appreciating an increased police presence.”

The Safer Travel team has helped dramatically cut crime on the region’s bus, train and network. Over the last five years, public transport crime has fallen by a huge 65%, meaning there is only one offence committed on West Midlands public transport in every 147,000 bus rides.

Centro vice-chair Cllr John Hunt said of the scheme, said: “Having a safe, secure public transport network is our priority; that’s why Centro helps fund initiatives such as this. It is thanks in part to the work of the Safer Travel Partnership that crime on our public transport network has fallen by more than 60 per cent over the last four years. However, we know young people can feel intimidated by anti-social behaviour and we would encourage them to take advantage of the See Something Say Something text campaign.”

The See Something Say Something scheme allows passengers who see any nuisance behaviour during their bus or Metro journey to text ‘bus’ or ‘metro’ followed by a space and then details of the incident including time, date, location and route number to 83010.  Alternatively they can give details by logging on the website or by telephoning West Midlands Police on 0345 113 5000.

See Something Say Something is for nuisance behaviour only and in the event of a crime, passengers should dial 999 as normal.