A joint crackdown on fare evasion and criminal behaviour at Southeastern’s stations in the Medway towns has resulted in a safer railway and a better travelling environment for passengers in Kent.
Operation Medway Towns, a joint operation between Southeastern and the British Transport Police (BTP), has been hailed by passengers and staff alike as a success – with almost 2,000 criminal prosecutions brought forward and over 6,500 penalty fares issued over a 28-day period at Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester, Strood, Sittingbourne, Rainham and Gravesend stations.
At Chatham and Gillingham, over 1,500 penalty fares were issued and criminal prosecutions brought forward at each station, with the help of Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras and the swift involvement of the BTP. In some incidents, staff were subject to violence, and the use of BWV technology has helped perpetrators be brought to justice.
Siobhan Bradshaw, General Manager for Revenue, Crime and Enforcement at Southeastern said:
“Nobody wants to witness violence or intimidatory behaviour when travelling by train, and no-one deserves to be treated that way at work, so we're pulling out all the stops to make sure that no-one gets away with hurting our colleagues, who are there to look after and assist our passengers – and ensure that everyone pays their fare.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for criminal behaviour – which includes not paying for a ticket for your journey. Evading the train fare is unfair on everyone – not least honest passengers who don’t expect to see their train fare subsidising people who don’t pay.”
Siobhan added: “This was an important operation that also resulted in some really good news stories for the local community - thanks to the eagle eyes of our teams. A missing 15 year-old was spotted at Gillingham and taken into police care; whilst at Chatham, a vulnerable dementia sufferer was seen without his carer, and accompanied to his destination to ensure his safety.”
Superintendent Will Jordan, from the British Transport Police, said:
“We absolutely will not tolerate violence of any sort on the railway, and we are committed to ensuring rail staff can do their jobs without fear of assault or abuse.
“We are there to protect them as well as the travelling public, so you’ll often see us out assisting rail staff in ensuring people have paid for their journeys.
“Fare evasion is a criminal offence which can and will lead to prosecution – in this case, over 8,500 people were dealt with over a 28-day period.
“Crucially, the public are our eyes and ears, so I’d ask anyone who witnesses any form of criminal behaviour on the railway to text us discreetly on 61016.