Man sentenced to eight weeks in prison after racial and homophobic abuse of TfL staff

04 February 2022
"Our staff have the right to do their job without fear or intimidation and we do not tolerate any form of physical or verbal abuse towards our staff or customers"
  • In separate incidents last year, a woman was sentenced to a 12 month community order and a man was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment after physically assaulting TfL staff  
  • 25 per cent of violence and aggression incidents in the workplace are hate crimes    

A man has been sentenced by Westminster Magistrates Court to an eight-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, following the racist and homophobic verbal abuse of two Transport for London (TfL) Transport, Support and Enforcement Officers (TSEOs) in June 2021. TfL takes a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of abuse on its network and is working hard to ensure its staff and customers are safe, feel safe and have the confidence to report any incident knowing that it will be taken seriously and investigated. Everyone has the right to use public transport without fear of abuse because of their disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other characteristic.  

Jonathan Saber was asked to fold up his scooter when travelling on the escalator at Vauxhall Station by Transport, Support and Enforcement Officers as it was causing an issue for other passengers on the escalator. At this request he became abusive towards the officers and pushed past them in an aggressive manner. After being challenged about his behaviour by officers at the bottom of the escalator, Jonathan Saber became extremely abusive and directed a torrent of racist and homophobic abuse towards the officers.   

Jonathan Saber subsequently pled guilty to two charges of verbal abuse and has been sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended on the condition he will not be convicted of another offence during the next 18 months.  

Violence, abuse and aggression towards TfL staff is never acceptable and will not be tolerated. TfL, working with transport police, will always seek to bring offenders to justice using all available evidence such as CCTV and body worn camera footage. In separate incidents last year Agris Grisins was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, and Keia Williamson was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days following the physical assault of Transport, Support and Enforcement Officers. Grisins was found guilty of common assault after becoming aggressive and abusive towards officers outside Baker Street station, physically assaulting officers with several kicks. Williamson was verbally abusive to staff after being asked to comply with face covering regulations. After TfL uniformed officers refused to allow her to travel, Williamson proceeded to physically assault them. Williamson was also found guilty of common assault. 

Mandy McGregor, Head of Transport Policing and Community Safety at TfL, said:

'Our staff have the right to do their job without fear or intimidation and we do not tolerate any form of physical or verbal abuse towards our staff or customers. This behaviour towards our staff, who were just trying to do their jobs, is completely unacceptable and we're pleased that Jonathan Saber has been brought to justice.  

'We take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime of any form and we urge anyone who experiences or witnesses hate crime to report it to the police immediately. The earlier it is reported, the stronger the evidence we have to help ensure that perpetrators face justice. It's important that incidents are reported so we can stop it from happening again.'  

Police crime figures show that a quarter of all work-related violence and aggression incidents are hate crimes. TfL takes a zero-tolerance approach to all types of staff abuse against its transport staff and works alongside the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and British Transport Police (BTP) to tackle it. This includes targeted operations for physical assault and verbal aggression on staff, public order offences, hate crimes and drunken abuse.  4,500 body worn cameras for staff have been in operation across the TfL network since the end of 2020 to help reduce workplace violence.  

TfL also funds around 3,000 police, police community support officers and TfL enforcement officers dedicated to policing the transport network in order to keep everyone safe. Activities include high visibility policing, covert patrols with plain clothed officers, targeted action against offenders and encouraging more people to report offences. As part of their duties, TfL's enforcement officers also continue to remind customers of the requirement to wear face coverings on TfL services and in stations as part TfL Conditions of Carriage. 

In 2020/21, there were 1,740 offences reported to the police, relating to violence and aggression against TfL employees and the employees of TfL's operators and contractors. Of these, nine per cent were physical assaults leading to an injury; 41 per cent were assaults without injury; 50 per cent were public order offences including verbal assaults and threatening behaviour.  

Notes to editors

  • A hate crime is any crime perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility on the grounds of five main characteristics: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity  

•    TfL has worked closely with communities affected by hate crime to better understand what role it can play in tackling it on the transport network, supporting victims and preventing all forms of racism, bias and prejudice. TfL recently launched its Stand Against Hate campaign to tackle hate crime on the network  
•    Hate crime is significantly underreported across society and transport is no exception. In 2019, more than 2,760 hate crimes were reported to the police but the real figure is thought to be higher. TfL continues to work closely with its transport policing partners to support the investigation of hate crimes on its public transport network to bring offenders to justice