Nearly 28,000 incidents of fare-dodging took place on the Underground last year, new data reveals | The Friday Article

Over 27,900 cases of fare evasion took place on the London Underground last year, a Freedom of Information request has found.

Photo: tseyin on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

The figure is higher compared to last year, where 27,413 occurrences took place.

The number has been increasing year-on-year except for 2012 – when it fell by over 2,500 to 13,825 cases. It then rose by nearly 8,000 to 21,810 the next year.

The statistics combine two different ways in which fare evasion is reported. Penalty Fare Notices are when people are charged for their first offence (such as failing to touch in their Oyster card), whilst Irregularity Reports are when individuals are considered for prosecution for repeat offences or other issues such as using a forged ticket.

Steve Burton, Transport for London’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers pay the correct fare, however there is a minority who do attempt to travel without a valid ticket.

“We take fare evasion of any kind extremely seriously and we have reduced fare evasion on our rail and bus networks to around two per cent of all journeys, which is low compared to other transport authorities around the world.

“We widely communicate the consequences of being caught without a valid ticket and anyone failing to pay a Penalty Fare Notice is referred to a debt recovery agency.

“We are also working towards measures that will improve our ability to pursue those who don’t pay,” he said.

The data also revealed that from 2010 to 2014, over £2.6 million was collected in court costs for successful prosecutions for fare evasion for the underground. These costs are one of many sources of income used by the Transport for London (TfL), with money also coming from penalty fares and maximum fares income.

For the past two years, the most fare evasion offences took place on the Jubilee line, with the highest number of incidents before that (between 2010 and 2014) taking place on the Victoria line.

The request also discovered that there are currently 13 underground stations with one or more gate-free entrances. These include:

  • Chalfont & Latimer
  • Chorleywood
  • Finchley Central
  • Kensington Olympia
  • Mill Hill East
  • Pinner
  • Roding Valley
  • South Kenton
  • South Woodford
  • Woodside Park

The other three stations have ungated entrances temporarily. Euston Square will have a new gateline layout this year, whilst Crossrail enabling works at Moorgate has caused there to be gate-free access at the station. Bromley by Bow currently has no gates at present due to improvement works being made.

Despite not having a gate line, these stations do use card readers at entrances and exits for passengers to tap in and out.

More information about the penalties and enforcement procedures for fare evasion can be found on the Transport for London’s website.

Why I find Freedom of Information requests fun – and you should too

Maths is something which still creeps in to my life despite leaving it behind at A-Level. The influence technology has and continues to have on journalism has bolstered digital journalism and the way in which writers process information. One of the key sources of information at present are Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, but it’s not just journalists that can submit these.

Photo: Jon S on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Personally, there’s something exciting about waiting for the response to drop into my email inbox after 20 working days – it’s like an early Christmas present. Plus, for someone who loves being analytical and finds mass data sets fascinating, there’s a sense of excitement that comes over me when I see an Excel document attached to the email.

In the past, I’ve found over 200,000 people have signed up to the Emergency SMS text service for 999, and discovered some news regarding my university’s library fines. The news that you can uncover is interesting, and I’m looking to write some more FoI-based stories on this blog in the future.

However, the great thing about FoI requests is that the process is rather straightforward, where you only have to make a request in writing and send it to the respective person at a public body. I know it’s not just journalists that possess this passion to uncover information and find things out (we love a good ‘snoop’ as it were), so why not give it a try yourself?

More information about Freedom of Information requests can be found here.

Musical Discovery: ‘Symphony’ by Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson

You’d have thought that a song called ‘Symphony’ by the electro-classical band Clean Bandit would involve bursts of violin and cello. Yet, with orchestral flourishes only appearing in the background, it’s another pop song by the trio which has this imbalance between dance and strings.

It’s a track much like Extraordinary and Dust Clears in nature. Bouncy, light synths and snappy drum beats are at the forefront underneath the vocalist’s sound, with the occasional, classical flair. In this case, it’s the artist behind Lush Life – Zara Larsson – and sings with pure, soft vocals reminiscent of her ballad, Uncover.

This track came out on Friday – the same day that Larsson’s debut album, So Good, was released. In that sense, Symphony‘s delicate nature was the perfect track to coincide with the record. It shows Zara in her true form, displaying her vocal talent. For fans of Clean Bandit who have only just been made aware of the Swedish singer, it’s certainly a great way to introduce herself.

As Larsson’s vocals take centre stage (both in the song and literally in terms of the music video), everything else – including Clean Bandit’s contribution – feels somewhat supplementary. There’s even an orchestra in the video, despite the classic elements of Symphony not being at the forefront of the song. Despite the lack of strings and the absence of a move towards the style shown on their debut album (New Eyes), that is not enough to be dismissive of this particular Clean Bandit track.

As with every collaboration, the trio always manage to pick a mood and singer which work well together. In this case, Zara Larsson leads a soulful single complete with impassioned verses and fluttering choruses. It continues the pop vibe of Tears and Rockabye, albeit with a completely different tone this time round.

A Day to Discover Lincolnshire

There’s a weird sense of belonging that comes with living as a university student in another county. I don’t brandish myself as ‘one of the locals’, yet there’s an understanding of the local community (especially as a journalism undergraduate, where I have to speak to people in the area for stories pretty much every day) which places me above being a ‘tourist’. That being said, today I was happy to explore as I took part in a variety of activities for Discover Lincolnshire Weekend.

Photo: © Liam O’Dell

I went with my good friend, Lauren, and the day started with a free guided tour of Lincoln Castle – an attraction in Lincoln which I have always wanted to explore in further detail after walking around it during last year’s Christmas Market. Our tour guide was a lovely lady named Dawn who gave us a lot of interesting information about the castle. I’m not a history buff at all, but it was still fascinating nonetheless.

The one thing myself and Lauren really wanted to do was the wall walk – which offered beautiful views of the city of Lincoln. Whenever I do anything remotely ‘tourist-like’ in nature, what always amazes me the most is the landmarks and views, as opposed to the trivia and historical aspects. It starts with some stunning views of Lincoln Cathedral (which create that optical illusion that the building is closer than it actually is) before offering a look back over the city as far as the eye can see. It certainly was a perspective different to that of the one from my university accommodation.

The view from the observatory tower. Photo: © Liam O’Dell.

The final stop on the wall walk was the observatory tower, which definitely made my legs turn to jelly somewhat in terms of the height and the strong winds which made me fear dropping my iPhone. Nonetheless, the ability to look out and see the city from an entirely different angle was marvellous.

The day ended with a bus tour, which saw us drive past places we already knew too well. However, I think the main point of this post is this: no matter how long you’ve lived in a place, there’s always some new beauty to find, and there’s always the opportunity to feel like a newcomer once again.

#indyref2 was to be expected – a vote for independence will be too | The Friday Article

The Tory Government possesses a dangerous arrogance at present. It’s one that chooses to fight against the ruling of the judiciary (High Court) on Brexit, the Lords’ recommendation that they should secure the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and now Scotland’s plans for a second independence referendum – which was announced by Nicola Sturgeon on Monday this week.

NICOLA STURGEON
Photo: First Minister of Scotland on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.

The announcement was always to be expected – the referendum hanging over Theresa May’s shoulder ever since it was found that the Scots voted for remain – but what wasn’t predictable was when the call by the SNP would be made for ‘indyref2’. However, just as Prime Minister May was about to relax in the fact that her Brexit parade could no longer be rained upon (thanks to the Brexit Bill being passed at the start of this week), the Scottish Government decided to announce their plans for the referendum. Oh dear.

You have to be thankful that our Government possesses a different sort of stubbornness to that of Donald Trump. When the latter’s initial ‘travel ban’ was blocked by a judge, he angrily tweeted that ‘THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!’. Yet, when May’s Brexit timetable was thrown into question by the judiciary and the laws, she may not have been happy, but she showed it with professionalism. Although this implies some separation between how the two governments operate, let’s not forget that both are becoming worryingly isolationist. Trump has once again tried to reinstate a travel ban, whilst the UK has to ensure it does not shut itself off when it severs ties with the EU after Brexit.

The Tory government has a dangerous tunnel vision – one obsessed with a hard Brexit that threatens the EU with a no deal despite making no economic evaluations of said deal, and one that is willing to do this without considering the wishes of the Scottish people.

To once again compare to Trump’s administration, there’s cries of ‘fake news’ whenever the US President sees any critical articles about him in the media. Now, as Sturgeon and co. publicly declare their discontent with the UK Government on Brexit, May accuses the SNP of playing a ‘game’ – which is somewhat hypercritical coming from someone who still refuses to secure the rights of EU citizens living here as though they are some sort of bargaining chip.

However desirable a forever United Kingdom may be, one has to understand that the treatment of Scotland by the Tories is more than enough evidence to show why a ‘yes’ vote is entirely possible. David Cameron’s sweet-talking from 2014 where he said: “I speak for millions of people across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – and many in Scotland, too, who would be utterly heart-broken by the break-up of the United Kingdom” has apparently gone out of the window with May. She’s resorted to the trusty ad hominem attacks that the Conservatives know and love.

As Trump’s shouts of ‘fake news’ show weakness and do little to stifle the criticism against his administration, you have to consider what the PM’s comments about the SNP ‘playing games’ conveys. Zac Goldsmith’s disgraceful mayoral campaign remains a constant lesson to the Tories about how bad personal attacks are in politics. In that case, it led to people supporting the alternative candidate: Sadiq Khan.

If the Tories maintain their arrogance, ignorance and tunnel vision, it will only benefit the ‘Yes’ campaign even further. Scots, angry at the fact that they are being ignored and mocked by the UK Government, will vote to leave the United Kingdom – and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Sign Language Week 2017: The right kind of fascination

This week, I saw a video of a young deaf refugee named Hamza in Aleppo learning sign language. As well as it bringing me joy, seeing the excitement on his face as he learned the sign for ball and shoe reminded me how and why hearing people should learn sign language in the first place.

Photo: Darelle on Pixabay (Public Domain).

 

The primary factor regarding the why is, of course, to break down the language barrier. As for the how, that’s something I think needs to change in the future.

I learned sign language to communicate with new friends I had just met through a charity, after realising that using pen and paper wasn’t entirely practical and fair if these people were to become my friends for life (which they are). A passion for learning new languages, breaking down this barrier and – quite simply – communicating in a way they would prefer all combined to drive me to become somewhat decent at British Sign Language two years later.

However, in this post I want to talk about fascination, as the need to learn BSL to call your best friend a piece of s*** or tell them to f*** off is still of fundamental important to some hearing people (I should stress, that is some hearing people). It’s not the fascination that’s the problem, it’s more the desire to learn.

To go back to the example of Hamza in Aleppo, we need more people who light up when they are taught such a beautiful, visual language. The fact that there is a language which is so expressive and unifying should be which fascinates us about British Sign Language – BSL should not be seen as a gimmick or something shrouded in mystery.

It’s something which has me on the fence regarding Ed Sheeran’s music video for You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. Whilst I will always value deaf awareness, there is a part of me which agrees with some people’s concerns regarding it being seen as a party trick. It shouldn’t be ‘I can sign this song in sign language’ – the individual should appreciate the language and visualisation behind the lyrics.

In other words, it’s time for a shift in intrigue. The language’s visual beauty should fascinate us, not the fact that it could be used as a simple party trick or way to insult our friends. The fascination should return to the wonder and excitement possessed by six-year-old Hamza from Aleppo.

This post was inspired by the fact that this week is Sign Language Week. For more information, you can visit the British Deaf Association’s website. 

Frances’ ‘Things I’ve Never Said’ – a pure, emotive debut album sung from the heart

There’s something humble about Sophie Frances Cooke. From bubbly chats with the audience on stage, to the passion poured into her songs, it’s a sense of personality which shines through in Frances’ music in whatever form that may take. Now, she opens her heart and soul in her emotional and powerful debut album, Things I Never Said.

Frances’ debut album, ‘Things I’ve Never Said’ is to be released this Friday.

It begins with Don’t Worry About Me – the opening verse of which is solely Frances’ vocals. The soft, delicate solo is a deep and impassioned introduction to a song full of harmony and feeling, as well as being the perfect way to set the tone for the record.

What follows is a track which is in direct contrast to the album’s opening song. Love Me Again. It’s more upbeat in nature, with bouncy lyrics under delicate piano notes. We hear drums for the first time on the album, with offbeat bass drums and open hi-hats to create a fluid song.

The driving drums can also be heard in Drifting, aided by the sharp piano chords in the chorus which push the song forward. It’s the last of the vibrant songs before Cloud 9, which is more like Don’t Worry About Me in tone with minimalistic piano, backing vocals and percussion to aid Frances’ voice. It’s yet another song which places emphasis on the 23-year-old’s voice.

Let it Out marks the start of five back-to-back singles taken from the album, and the transition from mellow to pop. The ballad sees a different form of soul – backed up with a relaxed, rhythmic drum beat – to juxtapose the more smooth, stripped back songs at the beginning of the record. Simply put, it’s the start of Things I’ve Never Said‘s pop crescendo.

It continues with No Matter, with Frances deviating from the piano and instead, picking up the guitar. Plucky riffs introduce this track in what is a very pop-sounding song. From the instrumental chorus, to slight vocal distortion and repetitive vocals, there’s a lot of elements to No Matter which makes it an upbeat, groovy hit.

The drums continue in Under Our Feet, driving the song forward in the second verse. Compared to No Matter, it’s an alternative pop song with a similar tone, explored through a more summery, slightly exotic track. Then, at the end, we hear a mesmerising piano solo which clearly signifies the fading of the aforementioned crescendo.

This sets the scene for Grow – a strong, fluttering song which clearly displays more of Frances’ vocal talents. With light piano chords to support beautiful high-pitched lyrics, it’s a soundtrack song which the listener can assign their own precious memories to. It’s no surprise that Grow has appeared in a rather humbling Amazon Prime advert in 2015, and in the moving 2016 film, Mum’s List.

Then commences the build-up to the album’s grand finale. With drums being brought to the forefront in this track, Say it Again hints at the atmospheric ending to come. There’s a surprise verse which doesn’t appear in the single version, and the lyrics fluctuate in a rhythm and style different to previous songs. With another instrumental aspect of the chorus much like No Matter, it does possess a more pop-sounding feel in this element of the track which goes against the calm verses, creating a unique ambience before the penultimate song.

Much like Say it Again, the anticipation for the final track is developed with Sublime. Whilst it may seem as though the three-quarter note piano chords and the slowed down chorus (which sounds rather similar to Daisy Bell) sees a return to the quiet side of the album, that’s not the case for the song’s final minute.

Grandiose strings and a complex tom solo on the drums creates yet another sense that this song should belong in a movie (there’s definitely some Pirates of the Caribbean vibes, one would argue), and could even have been an incredible ending to a strong debut album which displays Frances’ many talents as an artist.

Instead, Things I’ve Never Said ended the way it began: in the form of a harmonic, sad and heart-breaking track. The Last Word – which is presumably about the ending of a relationship – strikes the same chord as Don’t Worry About Me. It brings the album to a close, creating an atmosphere that will no doubt leave listeners in a peaceful state of catharsis after being taken on an emotional journey.

Frances’ debut album, Things I’ve Never Said, is out on Friday.