Ticket controllers are employed to help public transport to stop people from avoiding paying the fare. They often come in groups and check your paper ticket or smart card. If caught avoiding paying the fare it is most common to be asked to leave the bus/tram/etc and/or be given a stiff fine. Citizen’s arrest differs from country to country and those countries it is accepted the law is often very unclear. Jeanette Halldin from Gothenburg, Sweden experienced that this week, when she was accused of avoiding the fare and tackled to the ground because she panicked when surrounded by several burly ticket controller.
Västtrafik is responsible for the public transportation in the county of Västra Götaland. To curb fare avoiders they have their own ticket controllers, similar to guards from a private security company, which check the passengers have paid their fare.
Jeanette Halldin was taking the tram to work Friday morning, using a smart card to pay for her fare. The ticket controllers that entered the tram that morning claimed she didn’t, accusing her of touching-on only because she saw them enter the tram.
Usually a situation like this is resolved very quickly and hassle free. Ask the accused fare avoider to stay till the police arrives or remove from the tram.
This implies of course that the ticket controller(s) have caught the passenger avoiding paying the fare red handed. In other words, the evidence needs to be convincing enough that it can be used in court.
However, in this case the ticket controllers decided to stand their ground and aggressively detain the accused passenger, Jeanette Halldin.
Ticket controllers have the right to do a citizen’s arrest, according to Swedish law. Still, it’s only allowed valid if the person was seen committing a crime.
If there is any doubt about this, it is advised to not do a citizen’s arrest – meaning it is unlawful and you might be the one standing in front of a judge.
A video of the Incident was uploaded to YouTube where you can hear the ticket controllers’ accuse Halldin of avoiding the fare. The accusation is however disputed not only by herself, but also fellow passengers stating she has touched-on – paid her fare.
Västtrafik has seen the video and said to SVT that they see nothing wrong with how the ticket controllers behaved. They go on saying they [ticket controllers] did a good job.
This has caused an even bigger uproar from the public, that Västtrafik accepts this type of behaviour.
For argument’s sake, let us assume Halldin did touch-on only because the ticket controllers entered the tram. This still raises several questions; was the force and authority used acceptable, could this have been resolved in a better way, and lastly, that if a ticket controller assumes you have committed a crime, you might risk being bullied and assaulted like Halldin and Västtrafik is okay with that, what message do this send out to the customers of Västtrafik?
Below I’ve added the link to the video for you all to see. It’s in Swedish, but the gist of it is that; Halldin again and again says she has paid, which other passengers give their support. She is restrained a few times because she panics – one person surrounded by several burly ticket controllers.