YOUTH work is putting a stop to anti-social behaviour in and around the bus terminus in Witherwack, where only one report of antisocial behaviour has been made since the start of the new year.

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness has thanked everyone involved in tackling antisocial behaviour in the area, where ASB reports were previously nearly a daily occurrence.

As the region’s police and crime commissioner, Kim has invested millions of pounds in a range of solutions to help people feel safer when using public transport.  These have included targeted youth work across transport networks and the launch of a Safer Transport Northumbria app, to help make reporting concerns easier.

Towards the end of last year, both bus station workers and local residents in Witherwack raised concerns about young people gathering around the bus terminus and causing damage, making them feel uncomfortable going about their day-to-day lives. Issues reported included vandalism, broken windows and turning off bus engines.

The concerns raised followed an extensive public transport survey, ran by the Commissioner’s office, which found that people want public transport that is not only reliable and affordable, but safe too.

Recognising the area in Witherwack as an ASB hotspot, Stagecoach and PCC McGuinness’ office drew up determined plans to address the issues raised, with the support of Northumbria Police and Sunderland Council.

The plan involved appointing Together for Children to roll out focused youth intervention work in and around the bus station. The project, which was funded through Kim’s Safer Transport Northumbria project has seen daily reports of ASB disappear, with only one incident reported since the end of December.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said:

This success shows how we can tackle ASB together by finding the solutions that work for the community. Tackling ASB is not just a job for the police, we have to accept that. Over the last decade youth services have been ripped out of so many communities due to cuts, particularly here in the North East, the link between this and ASB is a clear one.

“Young people will say they have nowhere to go and often give little thought to the trouble they are causing. Having youth workers on hand at our bus stations to listen, chat and guide young people is clearly having a positive impact on them and is improving lives for everyone.”

Kim added: “Our buses are so important for local people to access education, work or leisure opportunities, and in a sustainable way. People also need to feel safe when travelling in the region and work like this helps people feel they can use public transport comfortably and reduces the need for people to contact police, it’s a win for all.”

Stagecoach North East Operations Manager, Martin Musther, said: 

“We would like to thank Northumbria Police and Together for Children for their direct approach to tacking anti-social behaviour in Sunderland, which has driven a real improvement in recent months and demonstrates our collaborative approach, and total commitment, to improving the public transport offer within each of the north east communities we serve.”

Together for Children delivers Children’s Services on behalf of Sunderland City Council. This includes working with young people and families to prevent youth offending and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Councillor Louise Farthing, Cabinet Member for Children, Learning and Skills at Sunderland City Council, said:

“We are delighted to have been able to play our part in the reduction of anti-social behaviour in Witherwack. Staff from Together for Children have spent time talking to young people and the local community to understand the issues. This has included working with young people so that they understand the impact of their behaviour, as well as work to support and signpost young people into Early Help services in order to prevent anti-social behaviour.

“Following the success of this targeted work in Witherwack, the Safer Transport Scheme is looking to work with partners, including the City Council, to identify any further areas across Sunderland where youth ASB linked to transport hubs is negatively affecting people using public transport.”


PHOTO: Kim McGuinness speaking to local people as part of a previous public transport survey