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Revealed: Police calls to Elgin bus station treble in ‘deeply alarming’ trend

Calls to take free bus passes off teens who offend with anti-social action plan being developed.

Stagecoach bus parked at Elgin bus station.
Concerns about anti-social behaviour at Elgin bus station have been growing in recent years. Image: Jasperimage

Urgent action has been demanded after revelations the number of police incidents at Elgin bus station have trebled in just three years.

Calls are now being made on average every five days.

Concerns about anti-social behaviour in the area have grown since Covid lockdown restrictions began to ease in 2021.

And community feelings have been heightened since the death of Stagecoach driver Keith Rollinson last month following an alleged assault.

A 15-year-old boy has since appeared in court charged with murdering the 58-year-old dad. He has made no plea.

Collage of Keith Rollinson and flowers on Elgin bus station bench.
The death of Keith Rollinson at Elgin bus station shocked the community. Image: Police Scotland/DC Thomson

Now police statistics have revealed the number of incidents at Elgin bus station have surged from 23 in 2021 to 65 in 2023.

Today calls have been made for urgent action to crack down on the anti-social behaviour to prevent further tragedies. Police say an action plan is being developed.

Why police have been called to Elgin bus station

Figures published by police show that disturbances, public nuisance concerns and assaults have been the most common type of incidents at Elgin bus station.

The statistics also include one firearms incident in 2023, three sexual offences in 2022 and one hate crime the same year.

Other reasons include silent 999 calls, road traffic incidents and requests from other agencies.

The police statistics show officers also do not attend every incident with seven not receiving a response in 2021, 15 in 2022 and 17 in 2023.

Anti-social action plan for Elgin being developed

Since the death of Mr Rollinson, regular meetings have been held between police, Stagecoach, Moray Council and elected representatives.

Police patrols have been stepped up at Elgin bus station during the last month to reassure passengers and other members of the public.

Two police officers on Elgin High Street.
Police patrols have been stepped up in Elgin town centre. Image: DC Thomson

The area has previously been described as a “no go area” with Stagecoach staff revealing teens from Keith, Forres and Buckie travelling to Elgin to “fight” with local youths.

Officers have confirmed a “multi-agency plan” is currently being developed to address the growing anti-social behaviour concerns.

Chief Inspector Michael McKenzie stressed teams were “actively responding” to concerns reported by Elgin residents.

He said: “We continue to carry out inquiries to identify those involved in this type of activity and we maintain hi-visibility patrols to provide reassurance. Anyone with concerns can approach these officers.

“We meet regularly with our partners, including Moray Council, Stagecoach and elected members to discuss our approach to antisocial behaviour and we are working together to deliver a multi-agency plan to address this issue.

“I can also confirm that officers are briefed on any emerging issues at the beginning of every shift to ensure they are best placed to deal with concerns efficiently and effectively.”

‘Minority making life a misery for others at Elgin bus station’

Moray MP Douglas Ross and MSP Richard Lochhead have described the rise in police calls about Elgin bus station as “alarming” and “concerning”.

Both have joined meetings with police and Stagecoach to develop plans to tackle anti-social behaviour.

However, they have stressed that action is needed to ensure the safety of staff, passengers and other members of the public.

Mr Ross said: “This sharp rise in the number of incidents at Elgin bus station are deeply alarming. The death of driver Keith Rollinson was an appalling tragedy and my thoughts continue to be with his loved ones.

Flowers at Elgin bus station.
Flowers remain at Elgin bus station following the death of Keith Rollinson. Image: David Mackay/DC Thomson

“While the scheme to give free bus passes to under 22s was well intentioned, it is all too often being abused by a minority of people, who are determined to make other people’s lives a misery.

“Our overstretched police – who are suffering the effects of damaging SNP cuts – simply do not have the resources they need to crack down on this behaviour.”

Mr Lochhead said: “These statistics paint a concerning picture given the increasing number of reports in recent years of anti-social behaviour and criminality at Elgin bus station.

“Police Scotland have increased their presence in the area particularly following recent tragic events and we now all have to work together to ensure that the bus station and everyone using it be that Stagecoach employees or passengers feel safe and welcome.”

Moray Council leader Kathleen Robertson said: “We’re committed to continuing to work closely together in the coming months to support the Moray community.

“Mr Rollinson’s family, friends, and colleagues are at the forefront of our thoughts right now.”

Should free bus passes be taken off offenders?

Union Unite has called for youngsters abusing bus passes for under 22s to have their right to free travel taken off them if they’re found to misbehave.

They have published a demand for 15 safety improvements as part of a “route map” to make journeys safer for staff and passengers.

Today the Confederation for Public Transport (CPT), the trade association for the bus and coach industries, backed taking free bus passes off those who offend.

Buses parked at Elgin bus station.
Free bus passes were introduced for under 22s in January 2022. Image: David Mackay/DC Thomson

Transport Scotland says free bus passes currently cannot be withdrawn due to them being required to access other services.

Paul White, director of CPT Scotland, said: “Staff should be able to feel safe coming to work, likewise, customers should feel safe travelling by any mode of public transport.

“Some of these recommendations are within the bus operator’s control, and are already happening across Scotland, but others sit with for example, the local authority or Police Scotland.

“CPT Scotland also continues to urge Scottish Government to continue to explore measures to discourage future incidents and to consider where action could be taken against offenders, such as the suspension of their right to free travel.”

Union’s 15 demands to improve safety after Elgin bus station death