Northern’s regional director for the North West, Chris Jackson, has commented on how so-called ‘modern-day fare dodgers’ on their network are leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs for their investigators to follow.
“The old-school fare evader still exists, but there’s a new generation who try to outsmart the system through a complex process of fraudulent refund requests, delay repay claims and a process known as ‘short faring’.
“What these individuals might not realise is that, as with any electronic transaction, our systems are able to identify suspicious activity and bring it to the attention of our specialist investigators.
“Once our investigators are on the case, they can review all ticket transactions by that individual over several years and build a case if they believe there is a pattern of criminal behaviour.
“One fraudulent claim today might uncover a backlog of similar activity that our team will pursue. Our message to those people is ‘quit while you’re ahead’.”
His comment comes as Northern revealed yesterday that in the 2022/23 financial year, their Debt Recovery & Prosecutions Unit investigated 108,681 reports of attempted fare evasion, issued 53,344 Penalty Fare Notices, attended 301 court sittings, helped secure 14,072 convictions and recouped £2.9m (£2,851,883) of lost revenue for the taxpayer.
Fare evaders are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000. In cases of ticket fraud, perpetrators are prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006.
Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with nearly 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.