EDITOR’S OPINION: Bus crime approach just isn’t working

Sheffield city centre if the bus crime hotspot of South Yorkshire

Sheffield city centre if the bus crime hotspot of South Yorkshire

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It’s probably fair to say that it hasn’t been a very good year for bus users in South Yorkshire, and in particular, in Sheffield.

The last two months of 2015 were marred by extended bus chaos, after timetable changes wreaked havoc and passengers were left scratching their heads trying to figure out new routes, altered frequencies and diversions.

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REVEALED: Bus crime hotspots of South Yorkshire

The problem still hasn’t been solved, despite attempts to fix it.

But another, perhaps more worrying issue, can be revealed today: the extent of crime that has hit bus users in the past three years.

According to a Freedom of Information Act request under The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, one crime takes place on board a bus every 36 hours. That adds up to 763 crimes on buses and coaches between 2012 and 2014 - see pages 8-9 for the full analysis of the figures.

This is an issue that needs to be sorted swiftly.

Buses are used by some of the most vulnerable people; particularly the elderly, for whom there is usually no alternative way of getting to the shops or socialising with friends.

If older bus users, who will undeniably be particularly prone to crimes like theft, are put off from using the buses, they could end up dangerously isolated.

Similarly, public transport is widely used by children, especially to get to and from school.

The fact that there were 30 offences of sexual assault on females aged over 13 is extremely worrying.

Parents need to be able to trust that their youngsters, especially young teenagers often taking the bus by themselves for the first time, will be safe on their journey and will be able to take their first steps to becoming more independent without fear of being robbed or assaulted.

We cannot allow our public transport to become a breeding ground for criminality when the service plays such a vital part in the lives of so many people, young and old.

Police and bus firms pledged to cut bus crime as far back as 2006.

That was now a decade ago, and still there are hundreds of crimes every year - even with CCTV on board many vehicles.

It’s clear that whatever the approach, it hasn’t been good enough to eradicate the issue.

Now it’s time we all called on the authorities to draw up a tough new no-nonsense plan to rid our public transport of crime, once and for all.

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