Southern Rail Improves Stance on Identification of Ticket Inspectors

Southern Rail’s Twitter team has confirmed that all ticket inspectors should show a photo ID to passengers on request.

This was in response to a question arising from concerns that fraudsters may pose as staff to defraud passengers, for example by skimming card details from those using contactless cards as a ticket or to pay for their journey.

Southern also indicates that passengers may decline to show ticket to anyone who refuses to show ID.   The exact advice given out by Southern is available below.

This is a significant improvement on the previous response by Southern a couple of years ago.  Enquiries about staff identification were made at the time following an incident in which a staff member had repeatedly breached the Railway Byelaws by refusing to show ID and another where an ID had been shown but the ticket inspector had deliberately concealed part of it and refused to show it in its entirety.

Southern’s customer service manager at the time had confirmed that revenue protection officers (RPOs) must show ID but had tried to excuse conductors from doing so, claiming that “recognised uniform” + a name badge constituted ID.

That advice was incorrect, as the Railway Byelaws make clear that anyone who exercises powers under the Byelaws – such as checking tickets – must produce identification on request, regardless of whether they are an RPO or a conductor / service host.

Railway Byelaws 24.3It was also very irresponsible advice.  Many passengers are unaware of the two different types of ticket inspector, let alone being able to distinguish between an RPO and a conductor in order to know whether or not they should be able to see a photo ID.

It is an extremely welcome move that Southern is now able to state a clear policy that all ticket inspectors need to produce ID on request and that passengers are not required to show a ticket to anyone who refuses to produce ID.

This brings its policies in line with general fraud prevention advice to always check for a photo ID if you are approached by someone who claims to be acting in an official capacity, regardless of whether this is on your doorstep, on the street or on public transport.

There is still scope for further improvement in Southern’s policy: All ticket inspectors having photo ID out on display when approaching the public would be another welcome step forward.  This would save passengers the awkwardness of having to ask to see ID.

Regularly seeing ID out on display increases the likelihood that passengers would spot the absence of an ID or a fake ID that might be presented by someone who is not a genuine staff member.

Here are the details of the Twitter exchange.

Southern Improved Fraud Prevention