Nottingham City Transport’s ‘Trojan Bus’ has been covertly patrolling the city’s streets for nearly 10 years. It looks like any normal NCT bus, except its windows are made of toughened glass and its passengers are plain-clothes police officers. Its aim is to help reduce the incidents of bus vandalism caused by stone-throwing and other acts of criminal damage.
Its ‘missions’ have always been undercover – often venturing out in the dark, going undetected by those who see it – resulting in the Trojan Bus beginning to take on an almost ‘myth-like’ status amongst bored youngsters intent on acts of mindless destruction. So this summer, the partners involved in the project – NCT, Nottinghamshire Police and the Respect for Transport campaign – decided on a more visible approach for one special assignment.
“Last week, we carried out a Trojan Bus operation with a difference,” explains Stuart Limb, Nottingham City Transport’s Schools Officer. “This time, we set off in daylight, when there were plenty of people out and about, and ensured that all the police officers on board were clearly on view in full uniform. Our aim was to be seen, to be visible and to highlight that our Trojan bus is real”
Having been in operation for almost a decade, the Trojan Bus has undoubtedly played a significant role in helping to reduce the amount of smashed windows and bus vandalism, as this year NCT has seen incidents fall dramatically to their lowest ever level – from around 250 per year ten years ago, to only 23 this year so far.
Working closely with schools, the Police, NCT and its partners have spread the message of the type of injuries that might result from stone-throwing, and the young people of Nottingham have responded positively.
“Sadly, however, vandalism still occurs occasionally and a group of young people were recently apprehended for stone-throwing in an area that we regularly patrol” adds Stuart Limb.
Youngsters – sometimes even as young as eight – involved in this dangerous activity face at the very least a Community Resolution Order and a bill for the damage that they’ve caused.
T/Inspector Huw Jones from Community Protection said: “It is good to see that incidents have fallen dramatically since the introduction of the Trojan bus operation. Our key concern is to keep our citizens safe and deter those thinking of causing criminal damage.”