Youngsters get Safer Travel message with Operation Bale

Police and travel companies launch safety campaign.

Schoolchildren will be getting extra lessons about safe and considerate travel on the buses.

Operation Bale will see police from the Safer Travel Partnership talking to youngsters at bus stations and interchanges across the West Midlands from September 2nd-9th.

Officers will advise on staying safe whilst travelling and what to do if they do get into difficulties, while also highlighting the impact anti-social behaviour can have on other passengers.

Reg New, the Partnership’s Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator, said that previously the team used to go to selected schools but this year a new approach had been taken. “A significant number of the reports received regarding school-related ASB involved behaviour taking place at bus stations and transport interchanges.

“As a result we will target these locations to allow for a wider impact on members of the public as well as school students, helping them to realise that what may be just a bit of fun to them is annoying to other passengers. This can include causing damage, shouting, swearing, not remaining seated during the journey and generally rowdy behaviour.”

As well as ASB, Operation Bale will see pupils encouraged to register electronic items such as mobile phones and iPads to help against theft. Reg New said: “We want to educate young people in how to travel safely and how to safeguard their possessions while using public transport.

“Whilst public transport in the West Midlands is an extremely safe way of getting around, by taking a few simple precautions young people starting school who are perhaps using it unaccompanied for the first time can learn how to get the best from it.”

The team will be encouraging youngsters and other passengers to use the See Something Say Something service to report ASB anonymously on the public transport network.

Passengers can text ‘bus’, ‘metro’ or ‘rail’ followed by a space and then details of the incident including time, date, location and route number to 83010. The information sent can help police pinpoint nuisance behaviour hotspots, carry out undercover operations and assist the Partnership’s dedicated ASB team in identifying trouble makers to take appropriate action.

Young people are also encouraged to use a schools version of the service to report poor behaviour amongst their peers. Where perpetrators are identified ASB Officers take appropriate action, often in conjunction with the school and parents. This can an include payback or reparation for their behaviour in the form of cleaning buses.

The Safer Travel Partnership is comprised of Centro, the region’s public transport delivery body, West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and transport operators.

Cllr Kath Hartley, vice chair of Centro and chair of its Putting Passengers First committee, said: “It is important that children learn how they can play their part in keeping public transport safe and pleasant for all.

“For some passengers anti-social behaviour is simply annoying but for others it can lead to an unfounded fear of crime. By creating an environment in which all passengers feel safe we will encourage more people on to public transport.”