Anti-social behaviour brought to task thanks to passenger tip-offs
A campaign which gives bus and Metro passengers the chance to help police crackdown on anti-social behaviour has led to scores of arrests.
Police have been able to identify specific hot spots across the West Midlands and take action based on crucial data gathered through ‘See Something, Say Something’ which enables passengers to anonymously send information about nuisance behaviour by text message.
Tactics used have included high visibility and covert patrols, the deployment of specially trained drugs sniffer dogs and ‘Gateway’ operations to blanket-check specific bus routes. Officers have also been using hi-tech ‘Invariance’ equipment which links in to on-board bus CCTV cameras to beam live images to hand-held screens in nearby police cars.
Inspector Cate Webb-Jones, who heads up police operations for the Safer Travel Partnership which includes West Midlands Police, National Express West Midlands, Centro, the Safer Birmingham Partnership and British Transport Police, said dozens of text messages about nuisance behaviour were being sent by the public each month to the 83010 text number.
“This information is invaluable to us as it provides excellent intelligence on what is happening and where,” she said. “By analysing the data we can identify any problem routes or services, pinpoint the type of behaviour taking place and take appropriate action.
“Although crime on the bus network is low – just one offence in every 100,000 journeys - we know that nuisance behaviour can lead to an unfounded fear of crime amongst some passengers.
“I would therefore urge the public to keep on using ‘See Something Say Something’ because doing so helps us to bring those offenders to task. It really is a case of ‘You Said We Did’.”
In Birmingham, the Safer Travel police team has been targeting routes identified by ‘See Something Say Something’ as having a particular problem. Since last April more than 66 operations have been staged as a result of information forwarded by the public, leading to 134 arrests and a cut in crime of 15 per cent. Targeted routes have included the Bristol, Hagley and Pershore Roads. In Coventry, Solihull and East Birmingham more than 21 Gateway operations based on See Something Say Something information have been carried out over the last six months.
These have helped achieve an impressive 40 per cent drop in bus crime in Solihull and a 26 per cent drop in Coventry. In the Black Country the Safer Travel police team has been concentrating high visibility patrols on hotspots highlighted by passengers in their See Something Say Something texts. One Gateway Operation staged on the 559 route in Wolverhampton in December led to six suspected drugs offenders being searched and two men prosecuted for drug possession. This followed a number of texts from the public which complained of cannabis smoking on buses running on the route.
Other texts highlighted nuisance behaviour on the 126 route. Police responded by staging an operation that led to the arrest of two people for offences such as assault and public order. Another operation in the Carters Green area of West Bromwich in December resulted in 27 people fined for ticket fraud. Since ‘See Something, Say Something’ was launched in October 2008, more than 3,000 texts have been received.
The success of See Something Say Something has, in part, helped to see crime on the West Midlands bus network fall to its lowest level for five years. Latest figures show a fall of 18 per cent over the last 12 months and a drop of 54 per cent over the previous three years. On the Metro, British Transport Police and Travel Midland Metro staff succeeded in reducing crime by 39 per cent between 2005 and 2009.
Passengers who see any nuisance behaviour during their bus or Metro journey can say something by texting ‘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 www.safertravel.info website or by telephoning West Midlands Police on 0345 113 5000.
In the case of an urgent crime or an emergency they should dial 999.
Published 16th February 2011