The ‘Wild West’ Metrolink line where passengers are being left terrorised

A top cop has said he is ‘determined to sort’ antisocial behaviour which blights the Metrolink network after hearing how one line was ‘the Wild West’.

Terry Woods, the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, vowed to act after hearing about a gang of girls terrorising passengers on the line to Oldham and Rochdale. Last year, the M.E.N. reported there were on average of 242 incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour a month reported on and around Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network over the previous 12 months. Transport bosses reported the most common incident type to be ‘smashed station furniture’, followed by damage to trams.

The senior police officer said a new GMP transport team was tackling antisocial behaviour which blights the tram system and promised to ‘sort it’ after hearing about problems on one line in particular, the East Didsbury to Rochdale line.

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A caller, Glen, contacted Mike Sweeney’s show on BBC Radio Manchester and asked the DCC what the police intend to do to tackle repeated antisocial behaviour on the Rochdale to East Didsbury line where the caller said he was ‘continually threatened’ by a group of teenage girls. The caller said he could ‘look after myself’ but the girls were ‘unbelievably aggressive’.

“I travel on that line. It’s the Wild West sometimes,” said Glen, from Shaw.

DCC Woods said: “We are well aware of some of the issues on some of the lines. Myself, (Greater Manchester Mayor) Andy Burnham and the head of (Transport for Greater Manchester) were actually at one of the tram depots, speaking to the staff about this and a number of other issues.

“The good thing is… we have got now a dedicated tram unit that’s staffed by GMP police officers. They are backed up by a road polcing department that’s been doubled.”

He said a specific plan had been drawn up to tackle problems on that and other tram lines.

“We are doing a lot of activity on that line. You may or may not have seen, if you are a regular user on it, staff on the actual trams but importantly certainly up towards Rochdale and on some of the other lines quite a heavy police presence at key times where we are speaking to and dealing with and arresting if we need to some of the people causing these issues,” said DCC Woods.

The officer encouraged people who witnessed antisocial behaviour on a tram but felt too intimidated to call police to instead contact GMP via it’s online ‘chat’ facility, where the public can communicate via text to police who would send cops to upcoming tram stops.

DCC Woods continued: “I’m really really keen that we sort out (antisocial behaviour) on our tram infrastructure. The tram infrastructure is a big part of Manchester becoming the best city in the world, certainly in the country. I’m determined we’re going to nail this one.”

Dept Chief Constable Terry Woods
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

The officer accepted antisocial behaviour on the tram network was a ‘key issue’ and that a ‘small number of people are causing misery’. He added: “This is a regular and a live conversation that I have with with the mayor and we talk together with TfGM around this.”

He said TfGM had ‘put in a lot of security and a lot of enforcement activity’ while GMP have a ‘fully staffed’ team working solely on the transport system.

“We are determined to sort it. People need the confidence to use what is a brilliant service,” said DCC Woods.

Greater Manchester Police’s Transport Unit regularly conducts bus and tram deployments across the region. Investments have also been made on the TravelSafe Partnership with TfGM, with targeted operations on the Oldham and Rochdale Metrolink line.

Last year Andy Burnham announced ‘significant’ new resources would be pumped into the partnership for ‘current and future enforcement’.

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