In recent days, a video filmed in Croydon during a police operation in support of Transport for London (TfL) ticket inspectors has been shared widely on social media.
Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist has released the following statement:
“It is clear from the video that has been shared online that this incident was distressing for the woman involved and particularly for her child. We understand why it has prompted significant public concern and we want to be transparent about our position and the role of our officers.
“Officers from the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command were supporting TfL ticket inspectors on a pre-planned operation in Windmill Road, Croydon on Friday, the 21st of July. As buses pulled into the stop, TfL inspectors would check the tickets of those onboard and also those getting off.
“Anyone without a valid ticket is required to provide their details to a TfL inspector so a penalty fare can be issued. This is not a policing matter. Officers only become involved where details are not provided or where someone tries to leave when challenged.
“The woman involved in this incident was asked to provide her ticket as she got off the bus, but did not do so. She was spoken to by a TfL inspector, then by a PCSO and finally by a police officer. She continued to try to walk away and did not provide her ticket for inspection.
“She was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and was handcuffed. When officers were able to take her ticket from her so that the TfL inspectors could check it, they were able to confirm it was valid. She was immediately de-arrested and her handcuffs were removed.
“Throughout the incident, the child was comforted by a PCSO who immediately recognised his distress. Anyone seeing how upset he was would be moved by this, and we regret any impact it may have on him.
“We recognise that the use of handcuffs can be a cause of concern, particularly given the context of this incident and the type of offence involved, but when a person is trying to physically leave an incident it is an option officers can consider. All uses of force must be proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.
“Ticket inspection operations of this nature are difficult. They place police officers in direct confrontation with frustrated members of the public and could escalate what would otherwise be civil matters to a different level.
“This incident raises questions about the extent to which officers are having to intervene in this way when supporting TfL in their operations. We will now work with TfL to ensure that the balance is right between officers tackling the most serious crime on the transport network and supporting their own operations to ensure revenue protection.
“An initial review of the officers’ actions did not identify any conduct matters but we will reflect on it carefully, in discussion with communities locally, to urgently identify any opportunities to do things differently.
“Given the level of community concern generated we believe it is in the public interest to voluntarily refer the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to review.”