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Train fare dodging crackdown in Medway, Swale, and Gravesham

More than 8,600 train passengers have been caught fare dodging in 28 days.

The figures emerged following a crackdown on criminal behaviour across parts of Kent by British Transport Police and Southeastern.

The crackdown aimed to increase safety on trains
The crackdown aimed to increase safety on trains

Operation Medway Towns led to almost 2,000 criminal prosecution and more than 6,600 penalty fares being issued at stations in Chatham, Gillingham, Rochester, Strood, Sittingbourne, Rainham, and Gravesend.

There was also the bonus of a missing teenager being found.

The highest number of offenders were caught at Gillingham train station, with 1,640 penalty fares issued and 538 criminal prosecutions, followed by Chatham with 1,581 penalty fares issued, and 452 criminal prosecutions.

Next worst was Rochester station with 1,167 penalty fares and 258 criminal prosecutions, followed by Strood with 1,020 penalty fares and 358 passengers prosecuted.

Another 846 penalty fares were issued at Gravesend station and 262 passengers prosecuted for evading fares.

The fare-dodging crackdown team at Chatham
The fare-dodging crackdown team at Chatham

Seventy-nine people were also prosecuted at Sittingbourne station and 384 penalty fares issued, while there were 10 prosecutions at Rainham station and 24 penalty fares issued.

Many of the prosecutions were aided by officers with Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras.

In some incidents, staff were also subject to violence, and the use of BWV technology helped bring the perpetrators to justice.

Supt Will Jordan, of the British Transport Police, said: "We absolutely will not tolerate violence of any sort on the railway, and we are committed to ensuring rail staff can do their jobs without fear of assault or abuse.

"We are there to protect them as well as the travelling public.

"Crucially, the public are our eyes and ears, so I'd ask anyone who witnesses any form of criminal behaviour on the railway to text us discreetly on 61016."

"There is no excuse whatsoever for criminal behaviour – which includes not paying for a ticket for your journey" - Siobhan Bradshaw

Siobhan Bradshaw, Southeastern general manager for revenue, crime and enforcement, said: "Nobody wants to witness violence or intimidatory behaviour when travelling by train, and no-one deserves to be treated that way at work.

"We're pulling out all the stops to make sure that no-one gets away with hurting our colleagues, who are there to look after and assist our passengers – and ensure that everyone pays their fare.

"There is no excuse whatsoever for criminal behaviour – which includes not paying for a ticket for your journey."

Ms Bradshaw added: "This was an important operation that also resulted in some really good news stories thanks to the eagle eyes of our teams."

She explained a missing 15 year-old was spotted at Gillingham and taken into police care at Chatham and a vulnerable dementia sufferer was also seen without his carer, and accompanied to his destination to ensure his safety.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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