North East transport chiefs have united with Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness in a new bid to make public transport safer.
Based on the findings of her recent survey, the Commissioner has come together with local authority leaders and transport operators to draw up a range of solutions to address the fears and concerns shared by local people. These include a new reporting app to transform the reporting process, body-worn cameras for transport staff, Street Pastor-style safety volunteers on patrol across the Metro network and extra CCTV linked to control rooms.

This round of the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund focuses on violence against women and girls and putting practical measures in place to make them feel safer in public spaces. It was launched in March as a response to the death of Sarah Everard in London.

Findings of the survey in Northumbria showed that people feel most safe in their neighbourhood during the day, and least safe in their nearest park, which was the same at night. Overall responses for Northumbria revealed that during the day time, 47 per cent felt ‘safe or very safe’ on public transport, compared to only 14 per cent at night.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “We’ve come up with a range of measures that we believe rethink public safety. People have told us what would make them feel so much safer and we want to make these things possible.”
She continued: “There are various parts to the strategy. We want to give the reporting of ASB a complete overhaul and make it so much easier for local people to get the help they need when they need it. We also want to implement practical solutions like help points and improve lighting. We want to support all this with educational campaigns to raise awareness and promote the support services that people can turn to.
“I’ve sent the findings of the survey in my bid with a very clear message that Government must back these concerns with funds that allow us to do something about them. We are still one of the safest regions, thankfully, but we’re clearly not safe enough and things need to change. We’re bringing real solutions to the table that will make our region safer for everyone. All we need now is the green light for Government funding for our region.”

The bid is backed by Cllr Martin Gannon Gateshead Council leader and chair of the region’s joint transport committee, Metro-operator Nexus and the North East bus operators’ network.
Cllr Gannon said: “We wholeheartedly support the solutions put forward by the Northumbria Police Commissioner to make public transport safer in the region. We recently set out a roadmap in the 2021 North East Transport Plan to build on the infrastructure in place to achieve a safer and more attractive transport network, which reflects many of the findings from the recent survey.
“It is vital that people feel safe on our streets so that there is higher take up of walking and cycling, which are the greenest and healthiest forms of travel, as well as public transport use in the region. This is why we’re hopeful for a positive response to the public safety bid.”

Chief Operating Officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “We have worked in partnership with the Police and Crime Commissioner to build this bid. It is vital customers feel safe on public transport at all times and we look forward to working with Kim McGuinness and our police force on this important project.
“Crime rates on the Tyne and Wear Metro are low for a network of its size, but we will never stop working to build customer confidence and deal with anti-social behaviour.
“Nexus has already invested in new CCTV and body worn cameras, and we are committed to increasing the visibility of customer support staff on to the network later this year. The Safer Streets funding bid will really help us to build on this work and we fully support it.”

The £400,000 public safety bid has been submitted to Government and the outcome is expected to be confirmed in early autumn.