bus stop printed on asphalt road

Bus routes and travel interchanges across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) are set to become safer places, with new Transport Safety Officers (TSOs) travelling across key routes on the bus network.

The move, a partnership between BCP Council and Morebus, is designed to address any future antisocial behaviour – after issues were identified in some areas over recent months.

These specially trained officers will travel on bus services and will be seen in and around Poole Bus Station, and Bournemouth and Boscombe Travel Interchanges as well as key bus routes across the conurbation, interacting with people and dealing with any incidents as part of this scheme.

The new TSOs will also work closely with Dorset Police to help prevent antisocial behaviour (ASB) by using a three-step approach: engagement, education and if necessary, enforcement, with limited but targeted police powers under the Community Safety Accredited Scheme (CSAS).

As part of the Council’s ongoing commitment to improving safety in, on and around public transport, the TSOs are being introduced thanks to a share of a £2.5 million funding pot announced last year under the Government’s Antisocial Behaviour Action Plan.

BCP Council was one of four areas selected to run this pilot, receiving £480,000 to recruit and train new TSOs and offer enhanced visible presence on public transport network.

The TSOs will travel on targeted routes based on information received from Morebus staff and members of the public, who can text a special number if they spot any incidents of ASB or feel unsafe while using public transport.

Councillor Kieron Wilson, BCP Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing and Regulatory Services which includes antisocial behaviour said:  

“Travel on public transport will be greatly enhanced with the Transport Safety Officers travelling on and around our bus network, engaging people and helping deal with any incidents of antisocial behaviour.

“We want everyone who travels on public transport to feel safe, and we rely on members of the public and bus drivers to report any incidents of antisocial behaviour to ensure our Transport Safety Officers are targeting the correct routes.

“If anyone spots any incidents of antisocial behaviour or feels vulnerable while using our bus network, then please text ‘BCP’ to 81018 with details of the incident including the time, date, location and if relevant, the route number, to let our Transport Safety Officers know.

“Having this level of security, particularly at Poole Bus Station which has been impacted by recent incidents of antisocial behaviour, will help make the network safer and make people accountable for their actions.”

In addition to TSOs, the council will be upgrading over 200 bus shelters with new closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the coming months, with Bournemouth and Boscombe interchanges, as well as Poole Bus Station also benefitting from additional surveillance technology.

The CCTV cameras will cover the busiest bus stops across the conurbation, as well as the main boarding areas of the bus station and travel interchanges, with high-definition footage live streamed directly to the council’s CCTV Control Room for officers to monitor.

In 2022, BCP Council was one of 16 areas across England and Wales to receive an additional £8.9 million from the government for a Bus Service Improvement Plan to run over three years, which has allowed these CCTV cameras to be installed, with the findings from a previous consultation revealing the need for this enhanced monitoring, alongside a uniformed presence on the buses.

Richard Wade, General Manager at Morebus, said:

“Bus travel is for everyone and a real opportunity for people to contribute positively to issues around the environment and congestion.

“The vast majority of our existing customers are really nice people, and we want to welcome more and more. A small element need a little reminder how to behave around others and we’ve listened to feedback which tells us a few have some concerns around this.

“The Transport Safety Officers are a great addition to help tackle this. Our drivers are our eyes and ears and are already feeding information to TSOs with when and where they can be most effective. The information we can all share will only get better as time goes on.”

Councillor Andy Hadley, Portfolio Holder for Climate Response, Environment and Energy said:

“These two streams of funding are a welcome addition in making Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole safer for everyone whilst supporting people to travel sustainably.

“These enhanced measures will reinforce important safety messages and hopefully encourage more residents to leave their cars at home and travel by bus, reducing traffic congestion on our roads and potentially making journeys quicker for everyone.”     

For more information on this scheme, please visit bcpcouncil.gov.uk/safer-travel

Find out more about the BCP Bus Service Improvement Plan here.