Parents are being urged to speak to their children – and to keep tabs on their whereabouts – after a spate of attacks on public transport in Greater Manchester.
The region’s TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) has asked parents to make sure they know where their children are, and what they are doing, over the Easter school holidays and beyond.
The request follows a string of incidents where rocks, bricks, stones and other objects have been thrown at public transport.
Recent attacks have targeted buses, trams and trains, leading to injury and serious delays.
One recent incident saw a train driver left with facial injuries when a brick broke through his cab window in the Clifton area.
Figures show that buses across Greater Manchester have reported more than 300 incidents of missiles being thrown over the past 12 months, while objects were thrown at Metrolink trams nearly 145 times.
TSP officers want young people to be made aware of the risks and consequences of throwing objects at public transport, both to drivers, passengers, and themselves.
Police and transport operators are also warning against people ‘surfing’ buses or trams after a child injured themselves falling off a bus.
Kate Green, TfGM’s TravelSafe partnership manager, said: “These types of incidents are absolutely unacceptable, and we will make every effort to track down and prosecute anyone foolish enough throw objects at public transport.
“The consequences of this type of unthinking behaviour can be extremely serious for transport staff and passengers.
“Parents and young people should also be aware that the consequences for offenders can also be very serious, and a moment of madness or showing off could result in them being banned from the network or potentially prosecuted.
“But offenders can also put themselves in danger, as we saw recently when a child was knocked unconscious while bus surfing. The outcome could have been a lot worse, so we really have to ask – is it worth it the risk?”
Incidents in the last month have included stones thrown at three vehicles along the Leigh Guided Busway (a 21-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage), a projectile thrown at a Stagecoach bus near the Etihad (two passengers were left with minor injuries), and a log thrown into the path of an oncoming train in Bolton (it caused a fire and 100 people were evacuated).
Ian Birch, the aforementioned train driver who was left with injuries from a brick thrown through his cab window, said: “I want the people who did this to see the impact of their actions. I could have been blinded or even killed.”
All of these incidents are currently being investigated by the TravelSafe Partnership (TSP) – which is made up of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), British Transport Police (BTP), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and transport operators.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester deputy mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire, said: “This reckless behaviour is endangering the safety of passengers, drivers, and the offenders themselves, and it could also deter people from using our trains, trams and buses.
“Everyone using public transport is entitled to a safe and enjoyable journey – incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour on the network will not be tolerated.
“Through the proactive work of Greater Manchester Police’s Transport Unit and TravelSafe officers, we are cracking down on this aggressive, dangerous, and often illegal behaviour. This drive against antisocial behaviour has led to a 25% increase in arrests since August.”
Chief inspector Lorna McEwan, of BTP, added: “Targeting trains and their drivers is absolutely senseless and can have devastating results. We are conducting extra patrols across the network and those responsible can be assured they will face the consequences of their actions, whatever their age.
“This isn’t harmless fun – it is a criminal offence and drivers and passengers could be seriously injured. Parents, I urge you to know where your children are and what they are doing during the Easter holidays – and most importantly – convey to them the dangers of throwing items at trains.”
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons/TfGM