Friday, October 14, 2005


Having a ticket is no excuse

A Sydney rail commuter with a valid ticket was handcuffed by transit officers and made to squat for 15 minutes after he went through a turnstile, a damning report by the New South Wales Ombudsman said. The Ombudsman's annual report, released today, strongly criticised the grey-shirted transit officers who patrol trains on the CityRail network. The report detailed one incident in which a man had a valid ticket but was unable to operate the turnstile, so he went through the turnstile – only to be handcuffed by a transit officer. "(The man) showed the transit officer the valid ticket but (he was) still handcuffed and made to squat for 15 minutes until police arrived – a most extraordinary thing to happen in Sydney in 2005," Ombudsman Bruce Barbour said.

He said transit officers had arrested people, possibly unlawfully, when no offence had been committed. "I don't think transit officers understand their powers," he said. The report also found three-quarters of RailCorp's investigations into complaints about transit officers were unsatisfactory. In many instances, RailCorp failed to pursue obvious lines of inquiry, failed to check the complaint history of the officers involved and did not interview the complainant. "What our review of RailCorp's systems led us to believe is that they're not being properly investigated," Mr Barbour said. "In many cases, no interviews were being undertaken of anybody other than the transit officers."

NSW Transport Minister John Watkins said he had been shocked by the behaviour of some transit officers. "I was disturbed early in the year about some of the reports coming through to me which is why I initiated that review back in March and why we've worked very closely with the ombudsman since that time," he said.

Opposition transport spokesman Barry O'Farrell said the report raised concerns about transit officers' behaviour. "Transit officers should be protecting train travelers from anti-social behaviour, not abusing their role by using excessive force," he said.

Report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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