There will be an increased police and staff presence on the Oldham and Rochdale Metrolink line over the next week as part of Operation Infinity.
Officers and staff from the TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) will be working alongside Oldham and Rochdale councils to address issues on the Metrolink following a spate of incidents.
During the next week officers will be flooding the Oldham and Rochdale line to offer reassurance to the public and deter and disrupt crime and disorder.
In the last seven months, Greater Manchester Police has recorded 240 reported assaults on the Metrolink line, a number of which were committed against TravelSafe Partnership employees. Sixty six of these assaults took place on the Oldham and Rochdale line.
In addition there have been 75 incidents of criminal damage recorded on the Oldham and Rochdale line, including stones thrown at moving trams, damage to vehicles at Metrolink car parks and damage to ticket machines.
Uniformed and covert officers will be patrolling the network throughout the week in response to the increase in incidents.
The initial operation will run for a week but will be bolstered by an additional three weeks of intensive activity to ensure commuters can travel safely during the summer period.
Superintendent Julie Ellison said: “We’ve seen a worrying number of incidents on the Oldham and Rochdale line in the last six months and it is completely unacceptable for our transport system to be abused in such a way that causes harm and misery to others.
“We know the public share our frustrations and rest assured we are doing all we can to address these issues and ensure the Metrolink is safe for commuters and those that work on it.
“Over the next few weeks you will see a heightened presence on the Metrolink line, with a particular focus on Rochdale and Oldham. Please don’t be alarmed by this – the staff are there to keep you safe and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
“We’ll also be working alongside Rochdale and Oldham councils to deliver long-term solutions to the issues we’ve witnessed, ensuring the transport network remains safe for all.”
Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) Head of Control and Operations, Chris Thorpe, said; “Crime and anti-social behaviour carried out by a small minority, causes significant disruption and impact to members of the public going about their regular journeys.
“However, it is important to remember that more than 240 million journeys are made on the region’s buses and trams each year, so the chance of being a victim of or witness to an incident remains low.
“It is really important that every member of our community feels safe to travel without feeling intimidated or concerned by the behaviour of others and through working in partnership on operations such as this, we will continue to reinforce and maintain that.”
Bev Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: “Any sort of anti-social behaviour across our transport networks must be dealt with swiftly and uncompromisingly. Having recognised issues on the Oldham and Rochdale line it was important for us to increase the number of officers to bring it to an end.
“As always, public safety is of paramount importance to us so we’ll ensure officers continue to patrol the Oldham and Rochdale line throughout the summer. At the same time, we will work with local councils and other partner organisations to put in place long term solutions. This behaviour won’t be tolerated and offenders will be stopped.”
Councillor Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “The levels of crime and anti-social behaviour on our Metrolink line are a concern and under my leadership Oldham Council is fully behind this initiative.
“The safety of residents is of paramount importance to me and I want to build on the amazing partnership work happening in Oldham to keep people safe in their communities and on public transport.
“As someone who uses public transport every day I have witnessed such behaviour but I’ve also seen that the majority of people using it are responsible and treat it with respect. It’s time to let the selfish few know that we won’t let them ruin it for everyone.”
Councillor Phil Burke, Rochdale Borough Council’s transport spokesperson, said: “I long campaigned for increased police patrols so this is welcome news that sends out a clear message that we are serious about tackling the antisocial behaviour that is blighting parts of the Greater Manchester tram network. This zero tolerance approach will help root out the small number of criminals inflicting this misery and mayhem and reassure the travelling public that our trams are safe, reliable and a great way to travel across Greater Manchester – and into Rochdale.”
The TravelSafe Partnership exists to keep public transport safe across Greater Manchester by offering reassurance to passengers and preventing and dealing with incidents of crime, antisocial behaviour and fare evasion.
The scheme is led by TfGM and Greater Manchester Police with support from contributing operators KeolisAmey Metrolink, Stagecoach and First Manchester.
Under the TSP, a dedicated team of Police Constables (PCs), Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), Special Constables (SCs) and TravelSafe Officers (TSOs) provide regular patrols on the region’s networks. The TSP also operates an extensive youth education programme, which includes visits to school and youth groups to educate and inform on the effects of antisocial behaviour on victims.