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Joint rail patrol trial

by Mark Rowe

An eight-week trial of joint rail company and rail police patrols is near ending – on November 22; it’s paired rail enforcement staff with a British Transport Police (BTP) officer to patrol stations and trains. Patrols are on various lines and at all times of the day and week. Four train operators – Great Northern, Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink – have been working with the BTP on the trial in and around London. Rail companies and the BTP say they will then consider the outcomes, with trade unions.

The rail authorities report that some nine in ten, 90.8 per cent of people, are already complying with face covering regulations. This rose to 98.4pc, after people not wearing masks were spoken to by patrollers; and 0.2pc, or two in a thousand, of people failed to comply and were either removed from a train or the station or issued a penalty notice. As featured in the November 2020 print edition of Professional Security magazine, Transport for London (TfL) last month complained that a similar percentage was a ‘selfish minority’ not wearing a face covering on public transport, the rule since spring lockdown was eased in mid-June.

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “When face coverings first became mandatory, we thought that almost everyone would do the right thing when they travel, and the data now backs that up. We can also see that even for the small number that need reminding, overwhelmingly people will do their part to protect others. We will continue to work closely with BTP to see if this success can be replicated across the country so that more people can travel with confidence.”

As of Thursday, November 12, across the country the BTP have stopped 67,741 people to remind them of the rules, asked 4,466 people to leave the railway and issued 141 fines to those who have not complied. The maximum fine a person can receive for not wearing a face covering is £6,400 in England.

Separately, uniformed and plain-clothed BTP officers carried out stop and searches, and deployed metal detection arches and dog units, with police forces across London and the south east, in targeted activity for Operation Sceptre’s national week of action, between November 9 and 15, to counter knife crime. BTP Supt Mark Lawrie said: “Fortunately knife and violent crime is rare on the rail network. Our aim is to stop criminals before violence can take place, that’s why our officers carry out proactive operations such as Sceptre.

“It’s important to remember that the travelling public are our eyes and ears. If you ever see anything suspicious, or anything that doesn’t feel right, you can text us discreetly on 61016.”

Picture by Mark Rowe from August; security officers on duty with ticket barrier staff at Fenchurch Street station, weekday morning.

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