Date published: 27 March 2018 Rochdale online
The Rochdale Metrolink service has long been blighted by antisocial behaviour since it began servicing the town centre in 2014, with reports of such behaviour having been reported locally since 2015.
The Metrolink stop at Newbold has particularly drawn complaints about vandalism and antisocial behaviour since 2015 when then-MP Simon Danczuk and ward councillor Daalat Ali addressed residents’ concerns, and little seems to have changed since.
On Monday (26 March), bosses at Transport for Greater Manchester admitted they do have problems with anti-social behaviour on the Metrolink network, particularly at stops in the Oldham and Rochdale areas.
Local resident Vicky Butler, who was waiting to collect her husband from the Newbold tram stop at Morrisons, told Rochdale Online about the recent issues at the stop, which is located near the Morrison’s supermarket.
Vicky said: “I collect my husband from the tram stop everyday at 6.50pm and these youths are there nearly every day. There’s between 10 and 20 all the time, mostly boys. One child, who stands out as the cocky one, can’t be older than 10 or 11.
“On Thursday (22 March), I saw a lady pacing next to my car. I asked her if she was ok, and she told me she was too scared to go to the stop to catch her tram because of the big gang of youths. When is this going to stop? There is not one person there to protect people and make sure these people are ok.
“My three-year-old son likes to go and wait on the platform for his dad. I don’t want to stop him going because of mindless yobs. A few months ago, we were waiting at the stop with about 10 other people and a group of boys smashed all the glass in the shelter whilst we were stood there. They didn’t care; I confronted them and all of them put the blame on the others.
“So many people are fearful of going to the tram stop and it’s ridiculous. How grown adults can be scared of young kids is beyond me. Society has gone mad. Children used to have respect for their elders, but not now. I want to do something, like set up a neighbourhood group, but I don’t know what.
“About six months ago, I was also a victim of another crime at the stop when three young boys dressed in black with masks on threw bricks at my car whilst I was driving. I had my husband and son in the car at the time. The police did nothing; I found out who two of the children were, and one parent couldn’t apologise enough, but the other was just as bad as the child.”
In 2015, the impact of vandalism, crime and antisocial behaviour on Metrolink led to a repairs bill of nearly £73,000. In all, Metrolink are responsible for 97 kilometres of track, along with 93 tram stops, with around 41 million people using the service every year.
Speaking in 2017, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “We know the majority of antisocial behaviour around the network is linked to young people. We need schools and parents to ensure their young people are aware of the potential implications if they cause criminal damage. They could cause serious injury as well as distress for passengers.
“The incidents that we have seen on the Metrolink service show the challenges that we face in policing the transport network. Since 2014 we have seen an increase in crime on the bus and Metrolink network which is why we established the Travelsafe team with Transport for Greater Manchester in April 2015.”
The Travelsafe Unit ran 11 operations in two weekends in 2016 on the Rochdale and Ashton-under-Lyne via Oldham Metrolink lines in response to complaints about antisocial behaviour, dispersing groups of youths that were causing problems at stops, seizing and disposing of alcohol from those caught underage drinking and have using body-worn cameras to identify repeat offenders and visit their homes.
Another local resident, Andrew Knight, recently posted a poll asking, “Should it be acceptable for members of the public to deal with the rising problem of youths causing mayhem at tram stops?”
Despite numerous crackdowns on antisocial behaviour over the years, antisocial behaviour stills appears to be a problem that needs addressing.
TfGM and British Transport Police have been contacted for comment.