Northern has issued a stern warning to persistent fare evaders using its services, cautioning that once identified, they should anticipate prosecution for both current fare evasion incidents and historical cases.
In instances where a discernible pattern of behaviour is established, the train operator’s Debt Recovery & Prosecutions Unit (DRPU) will meticulously construct a case for the courts, delineating the comprehensive extent of the offender’s deceit over an extended period.
With 70% of Northern’s tickets now being purchased through online platforms, the Digital Fraud Investigations Team within the DRPU can meticulously examine the circumstances surrounding suspected fare evasion incidents.
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.”
In response to the surge in digital ticketing post-pandemic, Northern established its Digital Fraud Investigations Team in 2021. The team has played a pivotal role in the DRPU’s investigations, handling 108,681 reports of attempted fare evasion in the 2022-23 financial year. Over the same period, the in-house prosecutors attended 301 court sittings, contributing to 14,072 convictions and the recovery of £2.9 million (£2,851,883) in lost revenue for the taxpayer.
In its ongoing efforts to combat fare evasion, Northern has recently advertised a position for a Revenue Enforcement Delivery Manager to join the team. The application deadline for this role is this Sunday, 12 November.
This warning from Northern precedes International Fraud Awareness Week (12-18 November), an event dedicated to highlighting the global initiative to mitigate the impact of fraud on society. Further information on this awareness week can be found at: https://www.fraudweek.com/
Perpetrators of ticket fraud face prosecution under the Fraud Act 2006, while other forms of fare evasion are addressed under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws pursuant to the Transport Act 2000.
As the second-largest train operator in the UK, Northern operates nearly 2,500 services daily, connecting over 500 stations across the North of England.