Police call on Leeds bus drivers and passengers to watch out for signs of criminals planning terror attacks
A bus operator is backing the efforts to disrupt criminal activity in Leeds by promoting a West Yorkshire Police project on a number of its services.
First Leeds will display Project Servator posters inside buses, as well as on digital poster boards and the Firstbus App used by drivers to help raise awareness of the project.
Formally launched in November 2018, it involves tactics developed and tested by experts at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and first used by City of London Police in 2014.
It sees officers in uniform and plain clothes patrolling busy areas, including city centres and tourist hotspots, at unpredictable times.
Those officers are specially trained to spot tell-tale signs that a person may be carrying out 'hostile reconnaissance' - the information gathering a criminal carries out when planning to commit a criminal act, including terrorist attacks.
The approach also relies on people who work, live and visit the area acting as extra eyes and ears for the police, and reporting anything that does not feel right.
During patrols in the run-up to Christmas, Project Servator officers spoke with shoppers in Leeds to encourage them to do just this.
They also made a number of arrests for a variety of offences, including drug dealing, and gathered useful intelligence about criminal activity.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Russ Foster, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “A great deal of hard work has been dedicated to delivering Project Servator across West Yorkshire, and we are extremely grateful to First Leeds in helping and supporting us in raising public awareness of this cutting edge initiative.
“We continue to build a network of people who work in our communities across business, commerce, retail and public transport who are ideally placed to be the police’s eyes and ears as they are out and about in our cities and towns and other crowded places every day, and will most likely know straight away if something seems out of place or unusual.”
He said the force had received "highly positive" feedback from residents who had seen Servator patrols in the city and spoken to officers involved.
John Fielding, staff manager at First Leeds, said: “The safety of our staff and customers is our highest priority and we’re grateful for the ongoing support from West Yorkshire Police’s Project Servator officers.
"Our bus services offer customers a safe transport option to their chosen destination and as well as the additional support from West Yorkshire Police, we also carry CCTV on-board every vehicle and our drivers are able to call for support if a customer ever feels unsafe or vulnerable.”
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Foster, added: “Since its launch Project Servator has had an impact and we have had highly
“Project Servator is all about building a network of vigilance to make it harder for criminals to operate while, at the same time, reassuring the public.
“This is nothing to be alarmed about and we would encourage residents to speak with our teams who will be carrying Project Servator leaflets and signage.
“Please remember that if you see something which doesn’t look and feel right, then get in touch. We need you to help us by being our eyes and ears to help prevent crime.”