Should guards be given more powers to enforce the law?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by startingaparty, 7 Jul 2019.

  1. startingaparty

    startingaparty Member

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    I was travelling on the train today and saw something that really bothered me. A man got on the train at the same place I did. The train wasn't particularly busy, there were only 4 people in my carriage. When the guard did a ticket inspection, the man didn't have a ticket and came up with the story that their ticket was on their phone which had run out of battery. The guard said he'd have to buy a new one and the man flat out refused. In the end, after the guard scolded him he just let him get away with it and sarcastically said "enjoy your free ride, mate". If the guard doesn't enforce the rules, then what exactly is stopping other passengers from not buying a ticket?

    I think guards should be given more powers to enforce the law, or Penalty Fares should be easier to issue. It's not fair on fare-paying passengers to just let them get away with it.
     
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  3. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Common decency, social embarrassment, honesty, etc.
    Pointless giving them more powers as many wouldn't use them. What would be the point of issuing a Penalty Fare to somebody who would obviously either refuse to give their details or provide false ones? Many companies actively discourage their staff from engaging in confrontational situations and as an increasing number of guards are women no reasonable person would expect them to "enforce the law" when confronted with some mouthy chav.
     
  4. a_c_skinner

    a_c_skinner Established Member

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    I'd want backup. I don't blame a guard who, if asking nicely doesn't work, leaves it alone
     
  5. BJames

    BJames Member

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    I do agree and it is difficult, but it's also important that the guard does not put themselves at risk - sometimes passengers that are completely uncooperative can be confrontational as well and these are situations best avoided. Any guard working on their own would not want to create a dangerous situation for themselves.

    Could the guard have called the police to meet the train at the next station call?
     
  6. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    I'm not a guard, but I agree. Guards are caught between a rock and a hard place, in that they want people to pay up as it's not fair for others, but their managers and TOC won't back them especially if it delays the train and the police aren't particularly interested unless their are other factors.
     
  7. startingaparty

    startingaparty Member

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    I understand it's a potentially risky situation and it would be silly to engage in confrontation. I think we need more RPI out on the trains and looking into avoiding people being able to board the train in the first place without a ticket.
     
  8. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    perhaps the guard should have tasered this person and bashed him with a truncheon before hauling him off the train in handcuffs. Shall we be a bit realistic?
     
  9. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    Absolutely. As long as assholes get away with being assholes, they will continue to be assholes inflicting costs on others.
     
  10. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    this is preposterous in the extreme.
     
  11. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's always possible that in such cases the guard said that with a smirk knowing full well there would be RPIs at their destination and a PF or prosecution on the way.
     
  12. farleigh

    farleigh Member

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    If they don't get backed by the bosses then why put yourself in a difficult position?

    However, it does give the impression that if you don't have a ticket then you are better off telling the guard to get stuffed rather than co-operating.

    The guards should be backed.
     
  13. Pluto

    Pluto Member

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    I've seen similar scenario's on numerous occasions, guards could at least say that they'll be phoning the revenue team about it rather than just admit that they can't do anything although most fare dodgers are fully aware that revenue Inspectors can't do much either. Short of having BTP officers on every train what can be done?
     
  14. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    Sense of humour bypass operation successful I see, but the principle behind my facetious response is sound. As long as you let people get away with things they shouldn't without consequence, they will continue to do so, they don't care about social decency, or have any shame, so inflicting costs on them worse than the gain from the perpetration is all that is left. Obviously I see there isn't a good solution for fare dodgers.
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Barriering more stations (and perhaps a change in the rules to allow barriers to be closed without direct supervision - instead having a help button to a call centre perhaps, plus a fire alarm automatic release and a manual emergency button, but with the latter having a CCTV camera pointing directly at the person who might press it?)
     
  16. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    Yes, a sense of morality and decency is all that stops most people from doing this.
     
  17. Pluto

    Pluto Member

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    It's not cost effective to install barriers at many stations and if you're seriously suggesting barriers at unstaffed stations well yobs will just force them open or jump over them and there will be hell to pay when the inevitable accidents occur.
     
  18. farci

    farci Member

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    Perhaps you remember this from 2011 when a passenger intervened and was nearly prosecuted for helping out a 'guard'?
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-16177725
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 7 Jul 2019
  19. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Depends on where. Obviously wouldn't work everywhere, but Bletchley for instance only has an "indoor" entrance and prior to recent "staffing up" this was just left open pretty much 24/7 with nobody (other than CCTV) watching it.
     
  20. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'm confused.

    First part - what powers do you think they should be given, that they do not already have? What training would be required to enable the proposed powers to be used, and what safeguards would you propose be put in place?

    Second part - if a passenger refuses to co-operate in the issuing of a regular fare, why would that same passenger co-operate in the issuing of a higher Penalty fare?
     
  21. Monty

    Monty Established Member

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    Problem is, if you are a guard your main focus is the safe operation of the train and for the passengers on board. Getting into arguments and altercations with people over fare disputes is an unnecessary distraction. Realistically even if you were to 'empower' train crew to take a more heavy handed approach it's only going to cause more problems than solve. Trains will be delayed and cancelled everytime a guard feels the need to pacify and detain someone, and that's even before you deal with increased staff assaults.

    Even giving guards the power to issue Penalty Fare Notices presents its own problems. It can be time consuming and once again distracts you from your primary duties. I don't fancy issuing those working on my own either...

    Fact is if a TOC is that serious about fare evasion and minor bylaw infractions it should invest in it's revenue protection department and not increase the workload of staff who already have enough of their plates.

    I say this as a guard and a former RPI.
     
  22. gazzaa2

    gazzaa2 Member

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    The battery excuse is the latest scam of the scoundrel. Guards will hear it all the time - tough luck buy another ticket. If they refuse they should kick them off the train at the next stop via a police escort if necessary.

    They seem to have the power to do this, as there's one guard on my line who has threatened fare dodgers with this and they've always either paid up or voluntarily got off at the next stop (a stopper train). He makes sure everyone on his train has a valid ticket or he'll have the police at the next station waiting for them (a bluff or not it always works).
     
    Last edited: 7 Jul 2019
  23. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    The short answer to the OP's question is "no" IMHO

    On trains where guards open/close doors, issue tickets (e.g. where station ticketing facilities aren't available) and carry out safety-critical duties, having them act as "policemen/women" should not be part of their responsibilities. Often, they do not even have the time to sell tickets sometimes on trains with frequent stops and closely-spaced stations

    Guard approaches an aggressive ticketless passenger and attempts to "enforce the law" by getting them to buy a ticket...guard then gets assaulted by said passenger and cannot continue his duties. Train gets cancelled as no replacement guard available so every passenger is inconvenienced.

    Invest more in RPIs with police backup when necessary. It is the job of the police to enforce the law, not guards
     
  24. Facing Back

    Facing Back Member

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    Do RPIs have more powers or generally more success than guards. I understand that at a station there is e less of a time constraint but passengers simply refusing to pay or giving false details?
     
  25. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    He’s bluffing, and I’m surprised anyone’s naive enough to have believed it. You must have some very thick faredodgers round your way! The police will turn up for failure to pay, and guards are entirely within their rights to request it, but you won’t get a quick response everywhere. I’ve worked on stopping services where the average ETA for BTP to most stops was about 90 minutes, unless they happened to already be on an operation in the area. They’re very thinly spread and don’t tend to request “civil” (local) police assistance unless a threat or actual violence is involved. Most of the railway’s prolific undesirables tend to know this.
     
  26. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Unfortunately this fits into the “wouldn’t life be nice...” box.

    Realistically there’s only so much the guard can do, especially on services where they’re potentially many miles from assistance if things get nasty. I don’t think enhancing powers would address this unfortunately. At the end of the day the main purpose of the guard is to ensure the train operates safely, revenue will always come second to that.

    Frustrating for sure, but realistic.
     
  27. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Won't happen.

    What about people caught in the gates? Happens more often than it should. And the numerous tickets that don't work the barriers?

    A call centre response just won't wash.
     
  28. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    As btp yesterday said their nearest unit was '60 minutes away' when a suicidal person was reported wandering around live 3rd railland, can't say I hav much confidence they'd pitch up at a moment's notice for no ticket...
     
  29. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    Maybe all guards should be issued with a power pack and compatible charging leads so that the " I've no battery life left in my phone" can be powered up to show the ticket... :)
     
  30. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    My point entirely. Think I can top that with a 75 minute response to a medium-sized riot on railway premises once (in a big town too), and at the time the officers said that they couldn’t have physically driven any faster...
     
  31. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    Aside from very obvious problem areas I can't say as I know very many regular individual fare evaders. We either walk them into a revenue/police sting eventually or by the miracles of things like Telegram organise ourselves individually and man mark them. They never expect you to talk to your colleagues, oddly.

    Either that or they get locked up for something else and disappear. I had regular dealings with a bloke I used to leave on the platform every time I met him and then he just vanished.

    I played dumb with one recently only to have him arrested (actually arrested for fraud no less with a large number of forged unpaid fare notices in his possession) by a large gang of police officers I happened to know were at a very unlikely station for a music event.
     

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