Ruth shares the story of a young person travelling home on public transport and the misunderstandings and judgements that are made. We hear it from the point of view of  the young person, and then of the adults at home waiting… If you are ever worried about your young person, do what these parents did and call the police. It took a while to resolve the situation but we are glad to say it was resolved… read on!

This is one evening but far more significant than the hours that passed.

“I’m dealing with a lot. I’m 14, my mum died last year, Covid hit and I was isolated away from school and friends for months with my grief, I’ve had trauma, I was supposed to move to high school, but I couldn’t cope and eventually I was diagnosed with Autism and learning disabilities after years of struggling every single day. Things haven’t got any better, life is harder as my friends move on and I struggle.”

The journey on public transport

Chatting, singing, and dancing with my two friends, I’m young and happy for a rare moment.

They must leave and now I’m on my own, I’m late getting home again, I struggle to understand passage of time.

I move to sit with a couple of older girls who look friendly, I feel ok.

Each stop I am getting closer to home.

Security staff get on surround me, lots of them, sanding over me, with more than one telling me to get off.

I can’t, I haven’t done anything wrong and I’m late getting home

They say I’ve been drinking and antisocial and I must get off.

I’m just sat here, I wasn’t drinking, why are they saying this to me?

I start shrinking in my seat, and put my headphone in

They keep saying I have to get off, over and over and over.

Even though its 9pm I put sunglasses on.

They keep saying I have to get off, over and over and over.

It’s not my stop, I will be on my own. I’ve not done anything.

They keep saying I must get off, over and over and over.

The girls try and stick up for me, but they are told they will have to get off.

They keep saying I must get off, over and over and over.

I move to another seat.

They follow me, surrounding me, telling me to get off.

I keep telling them I haven’t done anything and I need to get home

They keep saying I have to get off, over and over and over.

Why won’t they listen to what I am saying

They keep saying I must get off, over and over and over.

They won’t move the vehicle if I don’t get off.

I don’t understand, I haven’t done anything, and I need to get home.

I’m sat curled up on the seat, rocking

Then a woman starts shouting at me.

Not shouting but swearing, pointing and launches towards me calling me a ‘little sh*t’

I can’t cope anymore, I explode, I am held by the security staff and pulled away

My phone, my phone is still on there, I break free for a moment to get it but they grab me back

I’m telling them my phone is still there, they laugh at me

The doors close and my phone leaves along with the woman who decides to ‘flick the bird’ at me through the window.

The police arrive and I’m arrested for assault.

I don’t understand, I didn’t touch the woman, she was swearing at me!

The security people laugh

I don’t understand!

I haven’t done anything!

My phone, they wouldn’t get me phone!

I’m so upset, I’m so stupid, why can’t I understand, I start hitting my stupid head with my fists

Then my legs are taken out, I’m on the floor, pinned down by the police and handcuffs put on tight.

My ankles are scraped until they bleed, my hair is over my face

I’m put in a cell in the back of a van.

I’m so upset, I’m so stupid, why can’t I understand, I start hitting my stupid head on the sides of the van

I’m late

I’ve lost my phone

I don’t understand

I’m home and de-arrested unless the victim of the assault comes forward – what?!?

I really don’t understand, I was just sat there, that woman got in my face swearing and then the security staff pulled me away and they stole my phone, it wasn’t my fault.

My phone, I can’t speak to my friends, they are everything to me.

I can’t even go out the house without my phone.

What’s going to happen?

Sat at home

She’s late again

Texted but no response

It’s not ‘really’ late but it’s a worry, she vulnerable but she wants to see and be like her friends

Still not home

Texted but no response

The tracker showed she was on her way but it’s stopped

What’s she doing there?

It’s getting really late now

This isn’t good, I think somethings happened

She’s not answering

Tracker hasn’t moved

Please let her be ok

Will keep ringing

This is getting ridiculous

Phew, its answered. ‘what are you doing?’

‘who’s this?’ A MANS VOICE!

‘who are you? you’ve got my daughters phone’

‘have I?’ He’s drunk and hung up.

The phone must have been turned off now, its not even ringing.


She’s now over an hour late and a man has her phone, she was about 20minutes from home

Where is she?!?

Half an hour later we are on the phone to 999, a police van turns up blue lights flashing.

‘She’s assaulted two people on the metro unprovoked, we arrested her but we found her bank card so traced her and brought her home as she’s hurting herself in the back of the van’.

She collapses as she gets out the van, she’s distraught, it doesn’t make sense.

The outcome

Months later and after much communication and meetings with operators and their staff, we all observed the CCTV of the entire journey. Discrimination, intimidation, lack of recognition of signs of hidden disability, unfair treatment, theft, accusation, physical assault on her, trauma of arrest, loss of communication and socialisation for two weeks.

She did get an apology from the transport operator and her phone replaced. However, she still has a record of an arrest, she now very rarely travels independently, and we have to drive her most places, her world shrank. Training is going to be rolled out to staff in association with Autism North East. She hopes her trauma can prevent this situation occurring to someone else.