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Persistent rail fare dodgers told to expect prosecution

Northern has issued a warning to persistent fare evaders on its services that, once identified, they should expect to be prosecuted for historic cases of fare evasion as well as the journey for which they were caught.

Where there is a ‘proven pattern of behaviour’, the train operator’s Debt Recovery & Prosecutions Unit (DRPU) will build a case for the courts that outlines the full scale of the perpetrator’s deception over many years.

With 70% of tickets for Northern services now bought via online platforms, the Digital Fraud Investigations Team within the DRPU can scrutinise the circumstances of suspected fare evasion incidents in much more detail.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “Fare evasion hasn’t been as simple as people just not buying a ticket for quite some time.

“There are people 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 those people 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.” 

Northern created its Digital Fraud Investigations Team in 2021 in response to the surge in digital ticketing post-pandemic.

They have contributed to the DRPU’s investigations into 108,681 reports of attempted fare evasion in the 2022-23 financial year. The team’s in-house prosecutors attended 301 court sittings during the same period, helping to secure 14,072 convictions and recoup £2.9m (£2,851,883) of lost revenue for the taxpayer.

The train operator harecently advertised a vacancy for a revenue enforcement delivery manager to join the team responsible for clamping down on fare evasion. The closing date for applications is this Sunday (12th November).

Northern’s warning has been issued ahead of International Fraud Awareness Week (12th-18th November) – an event to highlight the global effort to minimize the impact of fraud on society. For more information, visit: https://www.fraudweek.com/

Perpetrators of ticket fraud are prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006.

Other types of fare evasion are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000.

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