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Crimes and misdemeanours - British Transport Police targets smoking on trains

Such is my hectic, global trotting lifestyle I'd completely forgotten about this.

Last week I was asked to comment on the fact that the British Transport Police has launched an advertising campaign to encourage people to text them if they spot any nefarious or anti-social behaviour on trains.

The campaign gives examples of the type of "incidents and crimes" the public might like to report. Smoking, inevitably, is one of them.

The reporter and I had a bit of a laugh about this. After all, when was the last time you saw anyone smoking on a train? Also, by the time you've sent a text and waited for the arrival of the police (!), the miscreant will have finished his cigarette and could be long gone.

Anyway, we both thought the focus on smoking was ridiculous. I said I didn't want to sound too po-faced so I spent the next few minutes trying (and failing) to think of something funny to say.

The report appeared yesterday and I was quoted as follows:

"You can only laugh," said Simon Clark, director of Forest. "I'd be interested to know how many texts they get. I can't remember the last time I saw someone smoking on a train.

"I would have thought you might ask the person to stop or point at the many no smoking signs or tell a member of staff. I'm not really sure there's a need to alert the police.

"I wonder what the police will do when they get the text from one of this army of citizen spies? Will there be a Swat team at Watford Junction ready to follow a trail of smoke."

The quote that wasn't used read:

"Can we text complaints about people using mobile phones in the quiet carriage ? Or people eating a late night curry on the 11.30 from Kings Cross to Stevenage?"

Full story: Police want people to 'discreetly' text them about incidents on trains - including smoking.

ITV News also has the story, and a quote by me: Rail passengers asked to text police over smoking on trains.

Ditto the Daily Express: Passengers urged to text police if they see a smoker on a train so they can speak to them.

And the London Evening Standard: Police urge passengers to report people smoking on trains via a 'discrete' text.

Update: The BTP campaign is called 'Let's make a difference'. As far as I can tell it's very similar to a previous campaign, 'We get the message', launched in 2013.

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Reader Comments (4)

A better approach would be the introduction of designated smoking cabins...

Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 11:44 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

And the London Evening Standard: Police urge passengers to report people smoking on trains via a 'discrete' text.

A 'discrete' text, eh? That's an interesting concept, although I suppose you could say that all texts are discrete from others to varying degrees.

The BTP are probably after those vile people who commit the heinous crime of smoking on the platform, which of course means that due to the tunnel network, the whole underground system would become contaminated with toxic levels of that well known super-carcinogen, 'second-hand' tobacco smoke. One can well imagine those poor, unsuspecting passengers dropping like flies as a result. It's good to see that our Transport Police have got their priorities in order.

Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 12:06 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Pity they can't spell ' discreet' ! More and more like a police state aren't we !

Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 16:24 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

I sometimes think that all the anti-smoking zealots out there have been infuriated by what a law-abiding lot we smokers are! Since smoking was banned on public transport, including the utterly-unreasonable ban on smoking in the open air on platforms, I genuinely haven’t seen a single person even attempting to light up on buses, trains, the Tube, or in taxis. Ditto in pubs, clubs, restaurants etc – every smoker I know or have ever seen dutifully troops outside to light up, even if they themselves are the landlord/landlady or owner of the place. Ditto again in workplaces – even if smoking has been disallowed in all work premises, inside and out, I don’t know a single smoker who has ever lit up where they shouldn’t.

I sometimes think that all those campaign groups who pushed so hard for the ban privately thought that as well as indulging themselves in a bit of rather gratifying bullying of a group of people they personally didn’t like (no doubt very satisfying in and of itself for such types), it would also bring in a whole host of fines and penalties which they would then be able to pressurise the Government into passing on to – you guessed – them, for more “health campaign” purposes. Some of them might even have written these extra funds into their budgets for forthcoming years. How disappointed they must have been. How inconsiderate of us all for so irritatingly sticking to their rules!

So, as you say, Simon, it’s laughable for them to include “smoking” in their list of anti-social behaviours for people to report, because it’s probably the one type of behaviour which other passengers are least likely to ever see happening! Perhaps there’s just ever-such-a-little bit of face-saving going on here .....

Friday, October 21, 2016 at 1:41 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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