Before we start this article, how many bus users can accurately describe what antisocial behaviour is and how often it happens?
Quite a few people as it happens! On average, antisocial behaviour happens several times a day, from swearing and shouting, all the way through to brick and bullets smashing windows, resulting in delays to bus services and reduced passenger numbers.
But there is no single definition of anti-social behaviour. The best way to describe it is to use the definition from the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) which defines it as any “…behaviour which causes, or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons …” This can include; vandalism, smoking, drunken behaviour, throwing stones/objects and threats/abuse and intimidation towards passengers or staff.
Figures from National Express West Midlands have stated that that the chances of becoming a victim of crime on public transport are very low. With nearly 1 million bus journeys being made every day it means that excluding vandalism there is only one crime for every 150,000 bus rides.
As a victim of Anti-social behaviour myself, having my school uniform attacked by a lighter, torn and then assaulted when I was at a bus stop and then bullied whilst on the bus during my time at school, it took me a couple of years before I felt confident to travel by bus by myself again. Thankfully though, I did take it to the police and the people who attacked me (who went to the same school as me) were punished.
However, my incident was not an isolated incident on public transport. Some passengers have witnessed stabbings, shootings, people throwing things at buses and much more.
On the 17th January 2018, passengers on board the number 14 bus were witnesses of antisocial behaviour when thugs attacked one of the buses on the route, smashing a window in broad daylight.
The incident, which on a traffic island linking Pelham Road, Belchers Lane, Alum Rock Road and Sladefield Road, caused shock to the passengers.
In an interview with the Birmingham Mail, one passenger said that the fully loaded bus “was travelling towards Stechford and, as it passed the roundabout, some kids threw an object at a side window. There were no injuries, just shocked passengers. The driver evacuated the bus immediately.”
Fortunately for them, the bus that was following picked them up to continue their journey, but some passengers are not lucky enough to have had that choice, such as back in 2013, when sixteen-year-old Christina Edkins was stabbed, and later died, whilst on her way to school. Her murderer was arrested, and then later pleaded guilty to manslaughter, indefinitely detained under the Mental Health Act.
West Midlands Police, as partners of the Safer Travel partnership (along with Transport for the West Midlands, British Transport Police and Transport Operators), aim to reduce most incidents of antisocial behaviour. They have gone on record to state that they will investigate and prosecute those involved when they have footage and evidence that can prove the offences taking place.
However, their efforts are in vain without help from the public, the Safer Travel Partnership are unable to deal with many of the incidents, as they go unreported.
That is why they advertise the “See it, say something” brand, a non-emergency anonymous reporting service for nuisance and anti-social behaviour across the West Midlands public transport network.
Their aim is that If you see any nuisance or anti- social behaviour during your bus, rail or Metro journey you can report it to the partnership by texting “Bus”, followed by a space to 83010 with your message, alternatively you can report by telephone or by downloading the app.
The Safer Travel Partnership say that they may contact you for further information about your report, but every piece of information you provide assists the Partnership in deploying resources effectively to make public transport even safer.
Some of these reports include directing Police operations, patrols and overall reassurance on the network. In addition to this, every single report is fed into the Partnership’s ASB case management system “ReACT” along with other reports e.g. those from bus and rail operators.
The Safer Travel Partnership have said on their website that “the nature of public transport, the high number of passengers travelling, and journeys taken in the West Midlands each year will often mean that you will be unaware of who your fellow passengers are. However, through your reports and assistance when given we will do our best to identify those disrupting your journey.”
I, personally, just hope that, with thanks to passengers and members of the public, antisocial behaviour on the West Midlands transport network are reduced, allowing for a public transport network that passengers are proud of.
What is your view on anti-social behaviour? Have you been a victim of this or have you witnessed this? If you have, did you report it? Leave your comments below on this.
The Safer Travel Partnership website can be found at http://www.safertravel.info/