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News Report Page 5 of 11
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British Transport Police Dog Squad sniff out offenders in the North

NEW canine recruits to the British Transport Police Northern Unit are proving the nose always knows. PD Ben has assisted with various arrests for cable theft and graffiti across Merseyside and Cheshire as well as answering calls for concern for welfare and searching for vulnerable people. Ben and his handler PC Dan Worthington attended reports of an ongoing cable theft where 2 suspects had climbed over a fence into an enclosed yard. Both men ran off when they spotted Ben. Ben searched the yard and indicated to his handler where one suspect was hiding.

Not ready to clock off just yet Ben then alerted his colleagues to the hideout of the 2nd suspect. Both men were arrested on suspicion of theft. PD Roxy along with PD Ben also helped Officers execute a warrant in Manchester. They prevented the suspect from leaving the property and hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stolen plant machinery was located. PD Benni and his handler PC Phil Healy were called to assist colleagues in Merseyside to respond to a man who had been abusive to Train crew and was trespassing on the track. As Officers tried to get near the male he picked up ballast and threw it at them, but as soon as he saw Benni he quickly complied and was detained by Officers. While carrying out routine West Coast mainline patrols PD Kooper and his handler PC Karl Harvey assisted after a member of staff was threatened at Runcorn Station. Together, they managed to find and detain the offender.

Inspector Lisa jones said:- "The dogs are a vital part of the work we do to prevent crime and protect the public. As these results show the dogs are a valuable policing asset and an integral part of the Police team that we simply could not do without. The dogs form an unbreakable bond with their handler; they can sense the mood of their human colleague and even respond just like a regular colleague would."

British Transport Police was the 1st Force in the country to employ man's best friend in the fight against crime. The dog section is 1 of the largest in Britain with more than 50 dogs that are used for general policing, as well as drugs and explosives detection. Many dog handlers have more than one dog and some dogs are dual purpose. The dogs come from a variety of backgrounds and live with their handlers.

A cross party group of MPs hope to save direct train lines

A cross party group of MPs and community leaders have come together to safeguard essential rail services that serve ½ a million people in the North West. The MPs for Southport and West Lancashire, Lancashire County Council and rail campaign group OPSTA are all calling for the direct train lines to be saved between Southport and the South of Manchester City Centre.

The Manchester Task Force, led by the Department for Transport and Network Rail, is running a consultation giving people 3 options over how the network can best cope with increasing levels of change from the pre-COVID service patterns. The consultation runs until 10th March.

All 3 options call for changes that could lead to Southport services no longer calling at Stations to the South of the City, including:- Piccadilly, Deansgate and Oxford Road, instead being directed by Manchester Victoria in the North of the City. People in the Region are being urged to reply to the consultation and object to the proposals.

Southport Conservative MP Damien Moore; West Lancashire Labour MP Rosie Cooper; Lancashire County Council Leader Cllr Geoff Driver; and Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Traveller's Association spokesperson Alan Fantom have written to the Manchester Task Force and to the Minister of State for Railways Chris Heaton Harris arguing against the:- "simply unacceptable" proposals.

In a letter to the taskforce, the group said:- "We understand proposals have been developed by a 'Manchester Recovery Task Force' to enable train operators to 'Improve Performance' by reducing the number of rail services running through the very congested central Manchester network. The consultation asks:- 'Do you support the aim of standardising and simplifying service patterns if this will significantly improve overall train performance?' offering 3 'options'. All 3 options propose the withdrawal of the direct Southport to Manchester Piccadilly service, which would mean the Southport line would be the only one to lose an entire route. This is simply unacceptable. Any solution must be holistic and based on an objective 360º assessment of specific travel requirements into Manchester that has recognised each of the 5 City Centre stations serves, as a destination in its own right, according to travel purpose. The options proposed in the consultation document make it apparent that the term 'standardising' is being used to mean route rationalisation which is 1, but not the only way of 'reducing the number of services' as it is stated in the consultation description. Consequently, the approach taken to meeting this objective appears not to consider meeting travel requirements to be the most important critical success factor and creates a significant gap in the routes offered that will affect at least 500,000 of the North West population."

The campaigners previously won a campaign to save the same line when it was withdrawn in January 2018, with the line only reinstated in December 2019. Their research discovered that journeys to Manchester were destination specific to 1 of the 5 City Centre Stations for reasons of work, business, study, health, leisure and in the case of Piccadilly connections to the rest of the country. ⅔ of Southport and Lancashire residents travelling to Manchester used and required the South side service.

Damien Moore, Rosie Cooper, Geoff Driver and Alan Fanton have instead put forward an alternative option: a switch of a Blackpool and Southport service and extension of Wigan North Western peak service to Blackpool which would save the existing services. They said:- "The MRFT states in its outline consultation document that the proposed options are 'to improve train performance in the Manchester area and beyond by altering the North of England rail timetable.' However, it is quite clear that the Task Forces' proposals are heavily biased toward the metropolitan communities in and around Manchester, leaving our constituents in Southport and West Lancashire respectively without a direct rail service."


Train Guard assaulted at Up-Holland Station - Merseyside

DO you recognise this man? The British Transport Police are investigating an alleged assault at Up-Holland railway Station and have released an image in connection with the incident.  We are told that the incident was reported to have taken place just after 3pm, on Wednesday, 17 February 2021, when a Train Guard is said to have asked a man to put his dog on a lead before boarding the Train. Police say that the man was said to have refused to do so, and the Guard told him that he couldn't board the Train. The dog then chased the Guard and is sais to have bit him on the leg. As the Guard defended himself from the dog, and the man is said to have punched him in the face then grabbed his head and said:- "I'll take your eye out." The man us also reported to have bitten the Guard's ear before he and his dog fled into Up-Holland Village.

Officers believe the man in the image may have information which could help their investigation. If you recognise him, or have any information, please contact BTP by texting:- 61016 or calling:- 0800405040 quoting reference:- 288 of 17/02/21. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on:- 0800 555 111.

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