Revenue protection inspector (RPI) or revenue protection officer (RPO) is the job title given to staff who patrol different forms of public transport issuing penalty fares to passengers who travel without a valid ticket or without the correct ticket (e.g. travelling where the ticket is not valid or an adult travelling on a child ticket).
These titles are principally used in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the United States, and Canada, fare inspectors are transit police officers who audit transit passengers for proper payment of fare; in addition in some cases, regular police officers are authorized to conduct fare inspections on some systems.
Revenue inspectors and officers mostly work at railway stations checking passengers' tickets as they board and alight trains, but can also be found on bus services. Inspectors may begin an investigation if they believe a passenger is travelling without a valid ticket, such as an adult travelling on a child ticket, an out of date or invalid ticket, or if the passenger has travelled beyond the destination printed on their ticket, with the intent to avoid their correct rail or bus fare. If the revenue inspector or officer believes there was intent to avoid payment, a penalty fare may be issued, or the passenger may be reported for prosecution. Inspectors usually wear a uniform provided by their employer..
In some areas, penalty fare schemes operate with a minimum charge of £20, or double the single fare to the next station stop - whichever is the greater. In other areas, the penalty is £80. These penalty fare areas are clearly advertised with large yellow station posters. If the journey is to be continued, the fare for the remaining portion is also taken into account.
Inspectors can caution potential fare evaders before interviewing them for the purpose of reporting the offender for possible prosecution. If found guilty, offenders can currently face a maximum of a £1,000 fine or three months in prison.
East Midlands Railway, Merseyrail, Northern, Govia Thameslink Railway, South Western Railway, West Midland Railway, London Overground, Southeastern, c2c, Abellio Greater Anglia, TransPennine Express, Chiltern Railways and Great Western Railway are some of the train operating companies that participate in the penalty fare scheme. With bus companies such as Arriva, Stagecoach, First, National Express West Midlands and National Express Coventry also fining people.
Transport for London currently employs over 200 revenue protection inspectors that work on the bus network alone.
Revenue Protection Officers have the power to detain people under common or criminal law circumstances:
Revenue protection officers also patrol Yarra Trams and Metro Trains Melbourne services in Victoria. They were introduced in a bid to curb fare evasion after conductors were taken away from the trams. Replacement of conductors with ticket machines as the point of sale method has also resulted in thousands of commuters evading fares on Melbourne trams. Many people view RPIs and RPOs negatively, and in the discharge of their duties, they regularly face being verbally abused and sometimes even physically assaulted. It is believed that an estimated 1,500 people are reported each week on services.
In New South Wales, revenue protection on its rail network is primarily the responsibility of transit officers. Like their Victorian counterparts, these transit officers also carry out security patrols on trains and railway stations, with the power of issuing on-the-spot fines for minor offences, and even to use "reasonable force" to make arrests.
Revenue protection on the NSW state government-owned Sydney Buses & Sydney Ferries is done by state transit revenue protection officers.
In Queensland, Queensland Rail, G:Link and TransLink employ authorised officers and senior network officers to patrol bus, train, ferry and tram services.
In Victoria, revenue protection personnel are essentially members of the police force who did not qualify to be an armed law enforcement person. Some of them are fully uniformed, but there are also undercover agents in casual clothes. Regardless of their attire, they must produce a badge and identification when discharging their duties. They have a strict weekly quota they must meet. They operate by asking a perpetrator to pay a $75 penalty fare on-the-spot, or, if the person who committed the offense is not offered this option or does not pay on the spot, they instead request for the person's name, address and proof of identity to submit a report to the Department of Transport, in which case the fine can increase to $212. The former option does not allow an appeal or refund, but neither does a suspect have to provide their name and address. The latter option allows the perp to challenge the penalty in court, request for an appeal, request for a payment plan or apply for a work and development permit. If the perpetrator elects to request a review, the Department can either proceed with a financial penalty, withdraw and refer the matter to the court, withdraw and issue a caution to the suspect, withdraw and take no further action or reduce the fees payable.
As of 2017, however, the on-the-spot system was abolished and replaced with a $240 penalty for adults or $80 for minors. Revenue protection personnel can use their discretion to issue either a warning or a fine.
Public Transport Authority, There are three different static officer's that operate on the Western Australia metro network and only two that train ride the system.
Railway employees in Australia generally have the same power to detain suspects as those in the United Kingdom: