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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Fighter Tom Aspinall backs campaign warning youngsters about consequences of antisocial behaviour

Greater Manchester’s leading professional mixed martial artist is backing a new campaign urging young people to think about the consequences of antisocial behaviour on public transport.

Atherton-born Tom Aspinall, who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has been speaking to youngsters about how their journeys on the bus or tram have been affected by the actions of others as part of the Don’t Get Ghosted campaign.

The TravelSafe Partnership is warning that individuals could lose their free or concessionary travel passes – or be banned from public transport altogether if they are found to be persistently misbehaving on the network.

Fighting, vaping, throwing things, playing music loudly, being noisy or abusive in groups or activating emergency door handles on trams are among the most regular examples of antisocial behaviour reported to TravelSafe.

As part of the campaign, Tom met with siblings Bethany, 10, and Ryan, 13, on the Metrolink to chat about the types of antisocial behaviour they have seen and how it has affected themselves and other passengers, as well as asking how their lives could be affected if they were banned from using public transport.

The UFC heavyweight title hopeful has also shared his own experiences of witnessing antisocial behaviour in his youth and how it affected him.

Tom said: “When I was growing up jumping on the bus was a big part of my life as I used it to see mates, and get to school or training. But I remember seeing antisocial behaviour on public transport, and that was an issue for me.

“Children and young people need to be aware that the way they behave might not seem antisocial to them, but it could make other passengers, staff and even their mates feel uncomfortable.

“Fighting, vaping and littering are just some behaviours which could land you in trouble if you do it over and over again. One moment of madness or showing off in front of their mates could mean they end up losing their travel pass, being banned from the network or potentially arrested.

“I know that this can have a huge impact on a young person’s daily life, so make sure you don’t get ghosted and think about how your actions can have consequences for yourself and others.”

The TravelSafe Partnership can immediately withdraw travel passes such as Our Pass, igo cards and concessionary travel for a criminal offence, or for committing antisocial behaviour on three separate occasions. Withdrawals remain in place for a minimum of one year.

They also with a letter home to parents explaining why their child has had their pass taken away from them.

Officers can also issue exclusion notices which prevent a right to access the public transport network, meaning that an individual found using the network will be trespassing. Serious public order offences committed on public transport could also lead to legal action.

Kate Green, TfGM’s TravelSafe Partnership Manager, said: “We want to thank the majority of young people who travel on public transport respect their fellow passengers and staff, but this campaign is sending a clear message to the small minority who don’t – your right to travel will be taken away.

“We are delighted to have Tom onboard with the Don’t Get Ghosted campaign. He is a local lad who knows the impact of antisocial behaviour first hand, and I think he is someone that people can look up to and listen to.”

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