Police stepping up patrols in Sunderland
Officers will be stepping up their response to reports of anti-social behaviour on buses in Houghton.
Extra police patrols will be taking place around the town over the weekend and next week to tackle this issue.
This will be a combination of high profile policing patrols as well as plain clothed officers gathering evidence in the affected areas.
Superintendent Steven Heatley of Southern Area Command, said: "We will not tolerate disruption to the bus service due to ASB which causes inconvenience to the public and interrupts the bus timetable.
"We are fully aware of the problems of buses being stopped due to the reckless actions of local youths, and we are determined to do all we can to effectively tackle this issue.
"We will take a robust approach to anyone found causing criminal damage, smashing bus windows or tampering with the buses themselves.
"There have even been reports of youths trying to get access to the bus engine. This in itself has the potential to cause serious injury to anyone who attempts this. Within the engine compartment there are moving parts which makes this activity very dangerous, particularly as the bus driver and other road users can't see anyone at the bus rear. We want to make it clear that anyone identified interfering with the buses will be arrested.
"We are also putting in place dispersal notices in the affected areas and anyone causing ASB will be removed from the town centre and will be arrested, if they return within the dispersal period, as refusal to comply is a criminal offence.
"Police are continuing to work closely with Go-Ahead North East and CCTV opportunities are also being explored to provide evidence of ASB which we will put before the courts.
"We have also been in discussion with the local authority, councillors, Gentoo housing and other key partners, taking a collaborative approach to tackling ASB and its effects on the wider community.
"Our officers will be visiting schools next week with an education programme to highlight the dangers of such ASB involving buses and to explain the detrimental impact such behaviour has on people in the local community.
"We are appealing for help from the public to identify those responsible and would ask if anyone has information about those involved to contact the neighbourhood policing team on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
So far officers have dealt with some 30 youths during the past month, mostly aged between 12 and 14. This is a serious issue and police would urge parents to be aware of where their children are on an evening and that they discuss the potential dangers of such ASB and potentially dangerous behaviour.