TfL pledges tougher crackdown on 'selfish minority' breaking Covid rules

20 January 2021, 06:00

Transport for London is cracking down on people who refuse to wear face coverings
Transport for London is cracking down on people who refuse to wear face coverings. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Transport for London (TfL) has announced a tough new crackdown on Covid rule breakers as it boosts the number of enforcement officers on Tube trains and buses.

Despite figures showing strong public support for the use of face coverings on the network and around 90 per cent compliance at the busiest times of the day, TfL told LBC a "selfish minority" continue to ignore the regulations and put themselves and fellow passengers at risk.

The transport body has expanded its team of enforcement officers to around 500 officers who are handing out more fines than ever and prosecuting those who refuse to pay.

Read more: Met police issue nearly £40k of Covid fines in east London in one weekend

Over the past seven months around 128,000 people have been stopped from boarding trains and buses until they have put on a face covering, around 9,300 have been prevented from boarding and around 2,100 have been ejected from services.

Around 1,700 Fixed Penalty Notices have also been issued to the worst offenders.

Fines have been as much as £660 for those convicted for a first offence, with one repeat offender having to pay £1,170.

The new recruits are working alongside the Met Police and British Transport Police (BTP) to enforce the rules and deal with any serious breaches.

Siwan Hayward, Director of Compliance, Policing Operations and Security at TfL, said: People should only be travelling if they have a legitimate reason and ensuring the network is safe for those customers, which include NHS and other key workers, is our top priority.

“Wearing face coverings, unless exempt, has been mandatory for seven months now and we continue to communicate the requirement in stations, on platforms and on-board services, so there really is no excuse for not wearing one properly for your entire journey when travelling on our network.

Read more: One arrested and dozens fined as Met Police break up gathering of 100+ people

"London is at a critical point in this pandemic and this is no time to be complacent with the measures we take to protect ourselves and others. 

“I want to thank all our staff for their hard work throughout the pandemic, including our enforcement team who have been doing an excellent job.”

Patrols are regularly carried out at stations with low compliance, with bus stops at Victoria, Brixton and Stratford some of the places targeted by officers.

Chief Superintendent Martin Fry, of British Transport Police, said: “We operate across the rail, Tube and tram network in London daily, engaging with members of the public, explaining the current restrictions, encouraging compliance and where necessary issuing fines.

Read more: Met Police Commissioner 'baffled' why officers not at front of Covid vaccine queue

“I’m pleased to say our frontline officers report the vast majority of people at stations and on-board trains are wearing face coverings, or are willing to wear one when challenged.

“Coronavirus is a very real and present danger. Wearing a facemask on the rail network and abiding by the current restrictions is very important, it saves lives and ensures the railway is safe for those who absolutely need to use it, such as those who work in the NHS.

“We’ll continue to fully support TfL and the wider rail industry.”