ONE MILLION pounds worth of investment to make public transport safer for North East passengers hangs in the balance as Northumbria’s Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness awaits the go ahead for her plans to tackle ASB across the region’s transport networks.

The Police Commissioner has spoken out on how cuts to policing, public transport and councils over the last 13 years have had consequences, with rising ASB being one of them. She is now fighting for funding to help passengers feel safer when travelling, which she in turn believes is an important step in helping the region to thrive.

The proposed plans to drive down ASB have been developed with police, transport and local authority partners and would see significant increases in police patrols and boosted neighbourhood warden and security resources.

Proposals now sit with the Home Office who will decide if tackling ASB on public transport across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland can be granted ‘ASB hotspot’ investment. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

When Government announced ASB hotspot funding earlier this year Ms McGuinness was critical that their plans failed to offer long term funding provisions for youth services and family support. She believes tackling the root causes is crucial in preventing ASB but says she welcomes any police funding she can ‘get her hands on for the North East’ if it means enhancing police visibility and fighting crime.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: “This is about us, as a region, being able to deliver a stronger, focused approach to tackling ASB on our transport networks as well as in the community.

“At the moment some people have told us they are frightened or uncomfortable using the bus or metro and this is impacting their daily lives – the simple things like getting to work or heading to the shops. Without access to good transport services, so much is put in jeopardy – income, education and healthcare. This really is the last thing the region needs – especially as we all know we are already one of the most deprived areas in the country.”

She continued: “These plans for more patrols and more focused operations in busy periods and at key interchanges and stations would help address people’s concerns and improve overall feelings of safety. It’s so important we get our region’s transport right. It matters to local people, and it matters to me – we just need the green light.”

Last year the Police Commissioner’s office conducted a range of surveys to explore how people felt about using public transport in the North East with most citing they want buses and trains that are reliable, affordable and crucially, safe. She also set up a regional board to tackle ASB which has found ASB on public transport to be a top priority issue for the area.

If successful, this funding will add to the two million pounds the Commissioner has previously secured for the Safer Transport Northumbria project which has included employing youth workers across the transport networks, developing a phone app to make it easier for people to report concerns, women’s safety campaigns and dedicated days of action and policing operations.