Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:17 UK

Mayor unveils bus policing plan

A policeman on a bus
Teenagers who misbehave will lose their right to free travel

An extra 440 uniformed police staff are to be drafted in to patrol major London bus stations to "take back our public places", Mayor Boris Johnson has said.

The 11.3m scheme is aimed at stamping out "minor crime", which was a key part of Mr Johnson's election manifesto.

He stressed the need for extra policing following "recent tragic events".

Last year BBC London reported that youth crime on buses had risen by 55% since the introduction of free bus travel for under 16-year-olds in 2005.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy joined the mayor at West Croydon Bus Garage in south London at the launch of the initiative.

'Tragic events'

The 440 officers will be divided into teams of a sergeant, a constable and seven Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). The teams will staff major bus stations and their immediate surrounds.

These officers will be in addition to 1,200 uniformed officers already in place who patrol on buses and around bus routes.

Another 440 officers are also already in place from Safer Transport Teams, deployed in 21 outer London boroughs.

The 12-week pilot will see teams focussing on three areas in London - West Croydon, Wood Green in Haringey and Canning Town in Newham.

After the initial period the scheme will be rolled-out across the city within a year.

Mr Johnson said: "Recent tragic events have further highlighted the need to get a grip on crime...

"The creation of these new teams, with some 440 new officers, is a crucial part of our strategy for taking back our public spaces, cutting so-called "minor crime" and anti-social behaviour, and increasing people's sense of safety."

Val Shawcross, Labour's London Assembly transport spokesperson, welcomed the extra PCSOs.

But she added: "The Tory shadow home secretary and Tories here on the assembly have been consistently disparaging about PCSOs, so hopefully Boris Johnson's change of approach is an indication that all political parties now fully support the valuable work they do."

Figures obtained by BBC London under the Freedom of Information Act showed there were 5,701 reports of crime on buses in 2007, compared to 3,666 the previous year.


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