It may look like a normal bus with normal passengers, but troublemakers beware, you could find yourself hailing a bus to the police station.
This is because Northumbria Police’s ‘Trojan’ bus – a decoy bus where the passengers are plain clothes police officers – is being deployed across the North East to take tough action at anti-social behaviour hotspots.
The policing tactic sees officers on board what appears to be a regular bus service, but it is in fact a staged service en route to pick up ASB offenders at bus stops and stations, helping officers make any necessary arrests.
Northumbria Police’s decoy bus is in conjunction with Stagecoach and the initiative uses additional funding secured through Commissioner Kim McGuinness’ Safer Transport Northumbria project which seeks to crackdown on ASB and improve people’s feelings of safety when using public transport throughout the region.
The destination of the bus will vary as it will be dispatched as a direct response following complaints from local residents or public transport users.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commission, Kim McGuinness, said: “The Trojan bus tactic is one of many strategies being used by officers to tackle ASB on and around North East buses. It’s a direct action, responding to community concerns and putting a stop to them.
“Anyone who thinks they can get away with throwing stones at vehicles, vandalising bus stops or riding motorbikes on pedestrian pathways needs to think again – this bus could be pulling up at your feet sometime soon.
“It’s early days but this bus has real potential to help crime fighting officers make any necessary arrests. Buses play such a vital role in helping our communities, getting people where they need to go, linking them with opportunities. People tell me they want public transport that’s affordable, reliable and crucially safe – this bus can really help with that part and help improve lives of those fed up with the ASB that goes on while they are waiting for a bus.
“It really is vital that we take people’s concerns around ASB seriously and that our police respond with positive and robust action to tackle the issues raised. Our Trojan bus is a great example of how we are listening, and how our police are working hard to catch those responsible and put a stop to behaviours that people understandably have had enough of in their area.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Gemma Calvert, of Northumbria Police, said: “As a Force, we recognise that the anti-social behaviour of a minority can have a significant and detrimental impact on the communities we serve – and that includes on public transport.
“The Trojan bus in South Tyneside is just one innovative way we are tackling pockets of disorder and identify those causing issues in hotspot area.
“Already we’re seeing some promising results and, together with our partners, we will continue to use every tactic at our disposal to fight crime and keep people safe.
“We would ask the public to continue to work with us, by reporting any concerns to police using the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101.
“In an emergency, or where a crime is taking place, always dial 999.”
The ‘Trojan bus’ is a multi-agency project with OPCC, Nexus, Metro Unit, Stagecoach, Council CCTV Room, Council business responders and the Council Youth Services.