Suffolk magistrates’ fines for fare-dodgers lowest in the region
PUBLISHED: 16:30 18 February 2020
Fare dodgers from across the region have had to pay fines and compensation of almost £400,000 in December and January – but magistrates in Suffolk look like a soft touch when faced with fare-dodgers.
Almost 1,400 fare-dodgers were taken to court in Suffolk, Essex, London and Hertfordshire during the two-month period.
For those who faced Suffolk Magistrates sitting in Ipswich the average total they had to pay in fines, costs and compensation was £50. That was just over a third of the next lowest cost - the average cost for fare dodgers in Basildon in Essex was £146. In Stevenage the average fare-dodger had to pay £532 - more than 10 times the cost of an appearance in front of the Ipswich court. The average of all the courts was £286 per fare-dodger.
A Greater Anglia spokeswoman emphasised that anyone found guilty of fare-dodging in court ended up with a criminal record - whatever they were ordered to pay in fines and compensation.
Only people who board a train without a ticket and without any intention of buying a ticket are taken to court - about 500 to 700 people a month.
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A further 4,000 to 6,000 people end up with penalty fares for using the wrong ticket to travel, such as an adult travelling on a child's ticket or using a rail card discount when they don't have a railcard.
Kim Bucknell, Greater Anglia's Head of Customer Service, said: "We will take action against people who travel without the correct ticket and will always prosecute people who have boarded our trains with no intention of paying for a ticket.
"It's easy to buy a ticket either from a ticket office, ticket machine, online or via our app, so there is no excuse for travelling without a ticket - and it just ends up pushing up prices for our fare-paying customers.
"For every £1 spent on rail fares, 98p is invested in the railway. By not paying for a ticket, there's less money available for investment to improve the railway for everyone. We have a range of great value fares and offers available - especially if you book in advance."
Greater Anglia's revenue protection teams have been in use for many years and the company said they use their discretion when inspecting tickets. They know if ticket machines are out of order or ticket offices closed, so when these are used as reasons, they know if they are genuine.
As well as uniformed Revenue Protection Inspectors, Greater Anglia also employs plain clothes Fraud Investigations Officers who use the latest technology and systems to detect fraudulent activity, specialising in travel fraud, such as delay repay fraud rings.