Should guards be given more powers to enforce the law?

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

  1. Bensonby

    Bensonby Member

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    I hate to disillusion you, but assaults on police officers are treated almost like a joke by courts. They are almost considered a lower level of assault presumably because officers should “expect” to be assaulted as part of the job. Just have a look at any police Twitter account for examples of measly sentencing - you’ll virtually never go inside for assaulting an officer.

    I’m a copper and when I was a uniformed PC, about 4 years ago, I nicked a bloke red handed burgling a pub. He kicked off in the street but had calmed down by the time I got him to custody. He then, out of nowhere, swung a punch and hit me square in he face. (It was a “proper” assault rather than him knocking
    Me during a struggle). He had numerous convictions for burglary. He got a suspended sentence for the burglary, and no extra punishment for assaulting me!

    With sentencing like that you might as well take it out in the copper to make yourself feel better when nicked!
     
  2. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    I'm sorry, have I suddenly been transported back to the 1920s? It's 2019, what possible difference does the gender of the guard make? In case you haven't noticed, female police officers - otherwise known as police officers - deal with "mouthy chav" types every day, with far more skill than the majority of people I know would ever be able to, no matter what their gender.
     
  3. CentralTrainer

    CentralTrainer Member

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    I remember there was a similar Guard on the Snow Hill/Bromsgrove Lines who operated mostly out of Worcester.

    No real customer service skills who looked to pick fights wherever she could.

    I think you could describe her, in Reddit terms, as a “Karen”.

    Not seen her on any services since the rebrand to West Midlands Railway happened.
     
  4. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    I can think of a few women who can get very intimidating very easily when circumstances require it. There's more to putting a 'mouthy chav' in their place than being built like an All Blacks scrum half, a 5'2" woman weighing 45kg soaking wet is fully capable of it with the right attitude. Whereas I'm a man with a fair bit of physical presence, and couldn't put a teddy bear in its' place.


    Trying to turn the guard or ticket examiner into a police officer is going to result in someone who's bad at both jobs. Realistically, if you want someone with police powers on every train, have a BTP officer assigned to every train. Probably one per carriage if you're actually expecting issues. Which is totally unaffordable, couldn't be manned even if there was money, and would give the railway a terrible public image.
     
  5. Mathew S

    Mathew S Established Member

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    Absolutely right. Couldn't agree more.
     
  6. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    It's all been said that guards live or die by their wits and personality - it's very true.
     
  7. broadgage

    broadgage Established Member

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    IMO we need police officers on trains to deal not just with fare evasion but other crimes as well.
    Not of course on every train, the cost would be vast, but on services known to be problematic and on a random selection of other trains.
     
  8. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    The best thing the guard can do is publicly show the person is not willing to pay and ask them to leave at the next station and pay. Holding the train up may escalate the situation and lose public support. They can't physically remove someone and without police enforcement they are limited.
    The real enforcement comes at strategic revenue blocks where the police are in attendance to prevent deliberate fare evaders from causing a disturbance or not co-operating.
     
  9. pt_mad

    pt_mad Established Member

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    You're right gender shouldn't have anything to do with it. That said, however, that only works if the culprit themselves isn't sexist and doesn't treat a woman as weaker. Some anti social individuals in society, and we've all seen them on the streets, the type who might still wolf whistle women, might actually treat a woman guard different to a man when they're being told to buy a ticket.

    In regard to police officers, it's not really a fair comparison when police have a whole set of tools as backup. Like power of arrest, asp, methods of restraint, bodycam, panic button, fellow officers etc. It's just not the same powers as a guard telling someone on a one on one at night you need to buy a ticket because it's the law.
     
  10. Pluto

    Pluto Member

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    Female fare dodgers/trouble makers on trains aren't exactly unheard of and are quite capable of being abusive if their sob story doesn't work.
     
  11. 170401

    170401 Member

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    Many Scotrail Conductors and frontline staff are now sporting mobile cameras on their uniforms. Could these possibly be the answer for low level crimes and revenue protection where the seriousness may not warrant an immediate police response?
     
  12. Pluto

    Pluto Member

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    A lot of Southeastern staff have them as well.
     
  13. island

    island Established Member

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    CCTV is a lot less useful than you think.
     
  14. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Veteran Member

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    It’s been known for people to impersonate revenue staff on board trains and “inspect tickets” and collect £20 notes off people who don’t have tickets. Merseyrail had a notorious fraudster of that ilk a few years ago.
     
  15. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Ah, yes, that would explain it. And wow, that is pretty serious. Seems like there are no depths to which some people won't plunge to con others out of money :(
     
  16. 170401

    170401 Member

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    Some of the staff I have spoken to disagree, general consensus seems to be that most people respond favourably when the camera is switched on and it's pointed out its recording audio, a liitle different to most fixed CCTV systems which I'd agree arent that much use.
     
  17. sprunt

    sprunt Member

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    It obviously can't be condoned, but if the victims had bought tickets...

    (And yes, I know what they say about everything before the but.)
     
  18. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    Yes, I have to admit the thought had occurred to me as well. ;) Still, a really appalling attempt at fraud though (and possibly some of the victims were people who'd made genuine mistakes).
     
  19. gimmea50anyday

    gimmea50anyday Established Member

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    From a guard point of view I wouldn't want the power. There too much entitlement and "my rights" attitude from people these days and no suitable backup to enable me to enforce. If that was to happen I would leave the role.

    What we need is a far more blunt, aggressive (I don't mean physical) and hard stance on revenue protection with the right staff and the right powers. An independent body answerable directly to the DfT that works across TOCs and on behalf of the TOCs and with proper and effective ticket barrier management (i.e no fresh out of school kids (LNER!)) with actual barriers, not 2 foot high gates like those installed in Newcastle, and revenue protection staff able to detain people as necessary. None of this "you can walk away at any time" nonsense. Only a hard lined approach across the entire industry will put a stop to the wastage I see every day but it sits firmly on the "too difficult" box alongside HSTs for XC and staff retaining diversionary route knowledge
     
  20. benbristow

    benbristow Member

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    Perhaps he was telling the truth. If you were in the same situation you'd be a bit fobbed off having to pay for another ticket.

    It does sound like a blatant lie but then "innocent until proven guilty".

    Since guards are working for (bar LNER) private companies I don't believe they should be given any more power to enforce the law than a normal citizen. Since then you can start saying "can bus drivers enforce the law?" and then "can taxi drivers enforce the law?" and in the end everyone ends up being a copper.

    Let the BTP do their job and let guards report to the BTP when any issues arise.
     
  21. radamfi

    radamfi Established Member

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    Should guards stop checking tickets, for their own safety, and leave ticket checking to RPIs?
     
  22. startingaparty

    startingaparty Member

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    I very rarely see someone get on a bus without paying for a ticket. I can only recall one situation and then the driver refused to move the bus until the passenger reshowed his ticket. Also, its quite difficult to escape a taxi without paying in the age of Uber and apps. Its basically impossible to board a plane without paying. The rail industry seems the odd one out here. There needs to be a way of checking all tickets before boarding, like a bus.
     
  23. gimmea50anyday

    gimmea50anyday Established Member

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    There is, they are called ticket barriers.

    The fact is -to me anyway- the staffing of barriers has always been seen as a half-baked and inconvenint effort by the TOC employing young, inexperienced and raw staff members rather than the effective revenue control it should be treated as, using experienced and empowered staff with the right PACE training and able to interrogate the data the barriers working the way they are programmed and designed to.
     
  24. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    Generally I apply a 3 question approach to someone without a ticket , ask them to buy one , if not ask them for details for an unpaid fares notice , if not ask them to leave the train .

    If they decline an answer to all 3 questions then Its rare that I will challenge them any-more and if I do it will usually by using my wits rather than threatening something like calling the police which in all honesty is unlikely , unfortunately its fairly often the case now that the minute you start challenging someone robustly either that passenger or a fellow passenger pulls a mobile phone out and starts recording then sending in footage claiming that the passenger "didndonuffink" and that the "conductor was just rude" , we also know that there are a group of people out there that love to bait in these situations turning the camera on when it suits them , whilst I am able to remain calm even in the face of such adversity and would have no issue with being released from train working and having a rep released from train working to point this out to management , ending up in that situation repeatedly is not going to look great either . On a more serious note as well there is a worrying increase in assaults against staff , and to be honest I would rather like to go home everyday without being assaulted . Its worth remembering that you should pick your battles , you wont endear yourself to other passengers , drivers , control ,your managers or station staff if you detain your train at a station for ages every-time you encounter someone that wont pay .

    In the event that they decline an answer to all 3 questions I will report the encounter , and hopefully if all guards did the same then the revenue protection department could respond by deploying RPI's , if necessary with btp backup to apprehend someone regularly failing to pay their fare .

    In the event of it being a one off encounter , the only way to stop these is by spending an inordinate amount of money on suitable revenue staff and btp for every station . Simply not going to happen , and would not be cost effective anyway . Ultimately in discussions such as these it is worth remembering that a certain level of fare evasion is tolerable in economic terms because the cost of reducing fare evasion to zero fare outweighs the fares that would be collected .

    People whose tickets whilst valid dont work in barriers wont be happy about waiting for a help button answer , especially when we know in the privatised railway world there will be 1 person covering 100 stations help buttons .

    Besides , if yobs notice a pattern for when the station is shut they will just jump the barriers or use any emergency release . Static CCTV wont stop them , a group of yobs damn near kicked a man to death on the Manchester metrolink despite knowing there was CCTV watching .

    The thing with the police escort idea is that on many lines , even in urban areas the wait for a btp officer especially for something like a ticketing dispute is going to be fairly long . I dont think passengers on the whole would really enjoy it that much if guards routinely started holding their trains in stations for the btp every time there was a ticket dispute . I have personally only ever called the BTP to disturbances on the train which are violent .
     
  25. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Ticket barriers do not prevent people boarding without a ticket, never mind a ticket valid for the journey they intend to make.

    I agree that the barriers should be staffed by people who actually understand ticketing and have the ability to take the correct action when someone does not have a valid ticket .... in fact, I am old enough to remember when the maunal checks at virtually all stations of any decent size were undertaken by exactly that sort of person.
     
  26. Urban Gateline

    Urban Gateline Established Member

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    This is a big problem, fare dodgers are wise to the barriers and there are so many ways to get past them, nowadays some are so brazen that they push through the barrier right in front of your face, knowing that there is nothing you can do as you cannot touch them. Yes regular offenders get reports put in which should lead to RPI stings, but as said before there are not enough RPI's around to deal with it!

    Having the barriers remotely monitored is one of the least effective ways, as well as causing issues for genuine ticket holders the absence of a person there means you may as well leave them open because people will push through them, climb over or under or as someone mentioned earlier pushing the EMO. This is evident at a lot of stations with such setups but unfortunately the extra revenue gained from staffing each individual gateline seems to be less than it costs to staff them!
     
  27. Metal_gee_man

    Metal_gee_man Member

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    So when a revenue blockade takes place for best results you need one or more BTP officers to actually detain the toerags, why isn't the law and job title adjusted and a national scheme set up to allow cross TOC enforcement to allow RPIs powers to detain (30mins like PCSOs), powers to use the police PNC system to check out offenders (stopping fake details) & the safety equipment and training to use all these extra powers?
    They'd be more effective, have more use than just an existing RPI or a BTP PCSO as both jobs would become one and the it'd increase safety for the travelling public because they would be involved in anti social behaviour also be able to apply the byelaws and issue fines for fare evasion!
    It also means a blockade can be completed with two or three (RPI/PCSO) staff rather than 3 RPIs and 2 BTP officers saving money and allowing resources to be used more efficiently
     
  28. Bungle158

    Bungle158 Member

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    Good luck with that, especially in rural areas. BTP simply do not have the resources.

    During the course of my career as a guard, l was assisted by local 'civvy' police in extreme circumstances, but this usually involved holding the train until their arrival.

    Short answer is, safety critical guards do not have the time, nor indeed training to act as constables. Management stress that confrontation is to be avoided,IMO, rightly so.
     
  29. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    In effect replacing the train operators' RPIs with BTP personnel - realistically, they'd have to be BTP to have the proposed powers.

    It's certainly an interesting idea. It would certainly make the point that fare evasion is a criminal offence. I'm not sure it's a good idea, though - it would take all of about fifteen seconds for the newspapers to turn it into 'railways employ jackbooted thugs to manhandle pensioner off of train over £2.50 mistake' or something similar.

    There would certainly be a change in attitude from revenue protection as a commercial activity, to revenue protection as a law enforcement activity. That's not a change to make lightly.
     
  30. Metal_gee_man

    Metal_gee_man Member

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    It's not so much about criminality, it's more around fining people and using the courts, if I was found with no ticket a fine is a bit like the fine for not using a seat belt in a car! No endorsable fixed penalty notice, beyond there a 3 strikes policy where arrest might be even more of a deterrant because some people will just see a fine as an occupational hazard for the number of fares they get away with!
    IMHO stealing travel is no different than stealing a razor from Boots or earphones from Currys, theft of services or goods ultimately results in a loss to a 3rd party and having a PCSO BTP officer deal with that seems the most sensible way of doing it
     

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