ONE arrest and 29 dispersal notices were handed out by undercover Northumbria Police officers riding the ‘Trojan’ bus, when it took to the roads in South Shields for 8 days of action before Christmas.

The bus is part of an operation to drive down antisocial behaviour on and around our public transport. It’s a joint initiative by Northumbria Police, Stagecoach, Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness and other transport network partners.

The bus travels to areas where commuters have reported concerns in relation to ASB which includes vandalism and youth disorder.  It is one response to tackling disorder as part of Operation Teviot.  Police officers travel on board ready to deploy and take robust action against those individuals who are causing trouble. This action may include making arrests or issuing dispersal notices.

Dispersal orders are imposed on an area and enable police to effectively deal with a person who has been involved or suspected to be involved in crime and disorder.  A notice is served which orders them to leave the area with no return within the specified time period.

Parents are warned children between the ages of 10 and 16 who are issued with dispersal notices will be taken home.

Those who refuse to comply with the order are committing a criminal offence and could find themselves arrested.

The orders are one of many tactics used by officers to help prevent crime and disorder in our neighbourhoods.

During the Trojan bus’ first deployment, an arrest and all the dispersal notices issued to youths were in and around North Marine Park and South Shields Interchange.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, said: “The Trojan bus is a decoy bus and is being deployed across the North East to take tough action at anti-social behaviour hotspots. It’s part of my force-wide Safer Transport Northumbria strategy and sees transport officials come together to crackdown on ASB and improve people’s feelings of safety when using public transport throughout the region.

“This initiative shows we are taking on board people’s concerns around ASB and that our police are responding with new tactics and robust action. The plan is to get the bus out often as we can and break up bad behaviour and improve people’s feelings of safety. Officers can’t give too much away but the idea is it could pull up anywhere, anytime – packed with police passengers ready to take action.”

Kim continued: “Bus stops should never be smashed up or vandalised, people should never feel scared and intimidated waiting to get on board. And so, our officers will be catching the bus determined to catch those responsible and put an end to unwelcome trouble and disorder in our communities.”

Chief Superintendent Barrie Joisce, of Northumbria Police, said: “As a Force, we recognise the anti-social behaviour of a minority can have a significant and detrimental impact on the communities we serve.

“The Trojan bus is just one innovative way we are tackling pockets of disorder as it is happening, in a bid to swiftly identify those causing issues in hotspot areas.

“Police officers in plain clothes on buses and the wider transport network gives us an opportunity to identify those behaving in an anti-social or criminal way.

“We’re seeing some great results which I hope will go a long way to help passengers and residents alike to feel safe.

“Together with our partners, we will continue to use every tactic at our disposal to prevent and disrupt crime.

“We would encourage the public to continue to work with us, by reporting any concerns to police using the ‘Report’ 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. These results are from 8 days of action during October and November 2023. More decoy bus services will be rolled out across the region in the coming months as part of plans to help fight ASB.