Calls for uniformed officers on Manchester’s Metrolink trams to tackle rise in anti-social behaviour

On average, 223 incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour per month were reported to Metrolink over last 12 months.

Greater Manchester’s leaders have called for a permanent presence of uniformed officers on trams to tackle persistent anti-social behaviour across the region.

Councillors from across Greater Manchester met this morning on Friday to discuss the city-region’s transport and the issues it faces.

Concerns were raised about a more than doubling in anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents recorded on the Metrolink network over the last three years, particularly on the Rochdale and Oldham Metrolink line.

On average, 223 incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour per month were reported to Metrolink over last 12 months.

A Metrolink report said: “Criminal damage continues to be an issue on the network and [the network] saw more incidents on Oldham-Rochdale line than any other lines. Failsworth continues to be a hotspot location where the most significant issue remains criminal damage to shelters.”

Failsworth is now a priority area for the network’s bosses in tackling this kind of behaviour.

The report added: “[The network recently] saw an increase in youth related anti-social behaviour on the network especially on Oldham Rochdale and Airport lines. The incidents primarily involve youths engaging in anti-social behaviour and activating door handles, resulting in delays on the network and distress to passengers. Incidents of misuse of the door handles on the Airport line have decreased, however it is still an ongoing issue.

“Rochdale Town Centre stop saw an increase in youth related incidents with eight incidents of door handle activations on this stop alone.”

What has been said?

Coun Howard Sykes, Labour councillor for Oldham council, said he has personally been calling for uniformed personelle on trams for at least two or three years.

He said: “Until we get a uniformed individual actually in the tram carriage, we’re not going to see any reductions in this.”

Other councillors echoed his comments.

In January 2019, there were just 14 reported incidents of ASB on the network. In January 2022, that rose to 29.

Incidents of damage to property across the network also increased – with 46 incidents recorded in January 2022 compared to 42 in January 2019 – and there were 50 incidents in which the network was obstructed or interfered with in some way in January 2022, compared to 28 incidents in January 2019.

There were four incidents of sexual assault on Greater Manchester’s trams in January 2022 alone, compared to three in January 2019.

There were also 16 incidents of assault on the network in January 2022, a reduction from the 25 in January 2019.

Metrolink representatives said they are working hard to tackle the issues it faces, but said ‘we cannot do this alone’.

They are understood to be assessing the extent of issues across the network over the coming months and will then be making decisions on where to focus efforts.

The network bosses have called for support from other authorities to try and improve matters.