Transport for London (TfL) has again stepped up its enforcement of face coverings seven months after the measure became mandatory on public transport. TfL has expanded its team of enforcement officers and is handing out more fines to non-compliers and prosecuting those who do not pay.
A new cohort of TfL enforcement officers completed training in December. This boosts TfL’s enforcement team to around 500 officers who are ensuring compliance of coronavirus safety regulations, as well as tackling aggression, fare evasion and providing greater visibility and reassurance. The new recruits are now in operation on the transport network, working alongside police officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) and British Transport Police (BTP) and carrying out enforcement operations on the transport network every day across the capital.
TfL’s latest customer survey found 75% are supportive of face covering enforcement, rising to 86% among those aged 65 and over. Station staff counts and analysis of CCTV show the vast majority of passengers are wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth when on public transport and in stations, unless they are exempt. Those who are exempt from wearing a face covering have the option to order a free card or badge from the TfL website.
Figures show strong public support for the use of face coverings on the network and around 90% compliance at the busiest times of the day, with only a selfish minority who are not exempt continuing to ignore the regulation and putting themselves and their fellow passengers at risk.
Over the last seven months around 128,000 people have been stopped from boarding services until they have put on a face covering, around 9,300 have been prevented from boarding, andaround 2,100 have been ejected from services. Around 1,700 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been issued to those who have travelled on the network without a face covering and who are not exempt. Customers who do not pay their fine within 28 days face prosecution and around 650 people have been prosecuted for not wearing a mask on the network. Fines have been as much as £660 for those convicted for a first offence, with one repeat offender having to pay £1,170.
“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,” says Siwan Hayward, Director of Compliance, Policing Operations and Security at TfL. “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. 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.”