New ‘covert’ way to report crime on trams being rolled out to protect passengers

An NET tram in Nottingham
An NET tram in Nottingham
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

Tram passengers in Nottingham who witness crime or anti-social behaviour while on board will soon be able to “covertly” report incidents to the authorities via a mobile number.

According to the group of companies behind the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) network, anti-social behaviour “remains above pre-Covid levels with assaults on staff, criminal damage and disruptive passengers being key areas of focus”.

To clamp down on crime and anti-social behaviour on-board trams a new WhatsApp number will soon be advertised as a way for people to secretly alert the authorities.

The number will allow people to message the driver and NET’s control room to raise any pressing concerns.

It will work in a similar way to British Transport Police’s ‘TEXT 61016’ service, which is typically available on trains.

The new service was revealed during a tram meeting at Nottingham City Council’s Loxley House HQ on March 14.

Jo Bentley, head of customer experience for Nottingham Trams, said: “You have got the 61016 on the trains if you need to report something, so we recognised that is a really powerful thing to do.

“If you are on a tram and there is anti-social behaviour often people do not want to have a confrontation and put themselves at risk by being seen to be on the phone to someone or pressing the help point.

“What we are doing at the moment is we have a WhatsApp number, and that WhatsApp number goes straight through to my guys in control.

“This year we will start to advertise that number as a means for people to contact us covertly without drawing attention to themselves.

“It is very similar to 61016 used on trains, it will be used in that manner.

“I think it is a fantastic initiative and the sooner we can get that up and running, the better. We have got all the technology in place, we just need to make sure we have the tram numbers easily identifiable on the tram.

“We are working hard on that project.”

Tramlink, an investment partner in the tram network, has also been working with the city’s two universities to offer better ways for students to access help and support if they feel vulnerable or threatened.

Anyone who feels at risk in Nottingham may press either of two help buttons at a tram stop to alert NET’s control.

CCTV cameras will then automatically focus on the area where the button was activated to provide over-watch.

Andrew Conroy, Tramlink’s chief operating officer, added: “We’ve started it this year with the universities.

“What we want to do is advertise the fact that, at each tram stop, there are at least two points that if you go up and press the button the CCTV will automatically focus in on you and an area of about 10 feet around you, so we can see you and what is happening around you.

“You don’t have to say anything. If we see anything that we think is wrong we will get the police immediately.

“We’ve been advertising that around the universities to say you don’t have to be a tram customer, if you are walking through the city, or anywhere where there is a tram stop, and you feel vulnerable, you feel someone might be following you, go to the tram stop and press the button.”

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