Safer Travel police operation targets louts and fare dodgers

Police take to the public transport network in a high-profile operation targeting anti-social behaviour.

Operation Goliath saw officers from the Safer Travel team mounting extra patrols on board buses, trains and trams across the West Midlands throughout March. The month often sees a rise in complaints about anti-social behaviour.

The initiative targets areas identified as vulnerable to anti-social behaviour, with a mixture of foot and mobile patrols responding quickly to real time issues identified by drivers and passengers.

Uniformed police from the partnership travelled on all modes of public transport targeting known trouble spots and included plain clothes patrols and revenue operations. This included a clampdown on fare dodging, which has been shown to be closely linked with anti social behaviour.

An operation on March 19 saw teams check a total of 160 buses in Birmingham’s Digbeth High St and issue 163 penalty fare notices worth a total of £5,522.28.

Three people were searched by police and one person was cautioned for possession of cannabis. The team also investigated a number of incidents resulting in suspects being identified for a series of crimes on or near public transport.

Inspector Lee Gordon of the Safer Travel Partnership said: “There is always a small minority bent on causing trouble and generally being a nuisance. Operation Goliath aims to see as many uniforms from the Partnership on the transport network engaging with passengers and staff but also challenging and dealing robustly with such behaviour.”

Cllr Kath Hartley, vice-chair of Centro, added: “Public transport in the West Midlands is a very safe way of getting about but incidents of anti social behaviour and crime can occur from a minority of passengers. This can put people off from using the network which is why we are determined to send out a message through operations like Goliath that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Total recorded crime on public transport in the West Midlands fell by 7.5 per cent between 2011 and 2014. However, passenger surveys have found things such as playing loud music and smoking are key irritants that can also lead to an unfounded fear of crime.

To address this, officers will speak to passengers advising them about how crime has fallen on the network and how they can use the See Something Say Something scheme to anonymously play their part in tackling nuisance behaviour.

Passengers who see any nuisance behaviour during their journey can say something by texting ‘bus’, ‘metro’ or ‘rail’ 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 to the website or by telephoning police on 101 for bus and 0800 405040 for rail and Metro.