TRACK trespassers are the target of a light-night crackdown as the number of alerts rise during the summer months.
British Transport Police (BTP) have launched Operation Intruder, with extra resources being put into monitoring Wearside’s lines as the number of lives being put at risk rise during the summer.
The force says hundreds of children and adults, as many as 14 a day, put their lives and those of passengers and railworkers at stake each year by straying onto the lines.
It has found more than half of trespassers are aged between 14 and 25 and that lighter evenings usually show an increase in cases, some of which include vandalism. Between April and June this year BTP recorded almost 2,400 trespass incidents, of which almost 1,300 involved people aged 25 or younger.
In the coming weeks, officers will target trespassers at problematic locations around the country, including Sunderland.
It has released footage of two cases, one involving youths at Millfield and the other at Stadium of Light Metro station, with a still of a man investigators would like to speak to in connection with the latter.
As part of the campaign, officers will carry out increased patrols in a bid to try to ward off would-be trespassers who either think the track is a place to hang out or commit vandalism.
BTP is enlisting the help of other police forces and the rail industry, including the use of helicopters, to report trespassers.
BTP officers will also report any damage to railway property, such as broken fences, so it can be repaired, helping to stop people gaining access to the track.
Inspector Brian Buddo said: “Children, teenagers and even some adults need to understand the dangers of the railway – that’s the message from British Transport Police as our officers spend the next two months targeting trespassers across the network.
“While taking trespassers through the courts remains open to BTP, the main focus of this campaign is prevention – stopping people getting on the track in the first place.
“Our officers have already visited a number of schools to warn children, face-to-face, of the dangers of straying onto the railway.
“We need parents to play their part, too – making children aware of how dangerous a place the railway can be.
“If you recognise anyone captured on the CCTV footage at stations in the Sunderland area please contact us.”
Anyone with information is asked to call British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016.
Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.
In all calls, BTP asks the incident reference PSUB/B6 of 28/07/14 is mentioned.