FOI request detail

Fine for not wearing face coverings

Request ID: FOI-0836-2122
Date published: 19 August 2021

You asked

I would like to know if you can disclose how many fines you have issued since the start of the pandemic and what you actually did to keep the public safe.

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-0836-2122

Thank you for your request received on 26 July 2021 asking for information about the number of fines issued for customers not wearing face coverings on the TfL network.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.
Since March 2020, we mobilised hundreds of our enforcement staff, who worked alongside officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the British Transport Police (BTP), to intervene with customers who were not complying with the legal requirement to wear a face covering on our public transport services or in our stations and who do not have an exemption. Our focus was on stopping the people who are flouting the rules, stopping them from travelling and/or issuing them a fixed penalty notice for a first offence.
Our monitoring showed that overall most passengers comply with regulations or are exempt. Our monitoring also showed that compliance overall was around 90% with around three quarters of passengers who do not wear a face covering saying they are exempt.
From 4 July 2020, the Government introduced powers which mandated the wearing of face coverings of face coverings on public transport (apart from those who had exemptions). This enabled TfL begin enforcement of the regulations after a period of engagement and education.   Unfortunately, there were a minority of people who thought they were above the law and showed a total disregard for the safety of others. These people were targeted through our enforcement action.
Enforcement has taken place across Bus, Trams, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and London Underground. In terms of TfL activity, here are the figures from Saturday 4 July 2020 – Sunday 18 July 2021:
•         215,668 people were stopped by TfL enforcement officers from getting on our public transport services until they put on a face covering. Most complied by getting their face covering from their bag or pocket, putting it on correctly or purchasing one from a nearby shop.
•         13,990 people were prevented from boarding and 3,254 were ejected from the service
•         4,370 fixed penalty notices (fines) have been issued by TfL’s Investigation and Prosecutions Team in this time
The police engaged with similar levels of passengers and stopping those without a face covering and who did not have an exemption from travelling. The numbers above do not include police enforcement.
Following national changes brought in by the Government of 19 July 2021, the power to enforce in the same way has been removed. Essentially, we are unable to issue fixed penalty notices and the police are unable to provide the same support. The Mayor committed to make the wearing of face coverings a condition of carriage on TfL services, but this does not come with the same enforcement capability as we had. We can prevent people from entering our network or request they leave and our operational officers continue to do this and to remind passengers of the need to wear face coverings as part of their regular activities. We no longer record the number of these interactions. Our frontline staff at gate lines and bus drivers also continue to remind people that face coverings are a requirement. The MPS and BTP also still provide a visible presence on the TfL network to deter crime and anti-social behaviour.
Please be assured that we take this issue very seriously and are doing all we can to improve compliance to keep our staff and passengers safe.
Independent testing by Imperial College London has been carried out monthly since September, taking swabs of touch points in stations, buses and air samples in ticket halls and has found no traces of coronavirus on the public transport network.
If this is not the information you are looking for please feel free to contact me.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]

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