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British Transport Police announce new “dry train” policies

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) opposes laws and rules which discriminate against fans and “dry trains” – where alcohol is banned – fall into that category. However, we also believe it’s vital that fans know the lay of the land and a recent change in BTP policy means those who are “obviously drunk” or try to “smuggle” alcohol onto dry trains will be refused travel.

Stephen Thomas (Assistant Chief Constable, BTP) explains more:

British Transport Police (BTP) and the train operating companies do not implement dry trains unless intelligence and previous experience indicates that it is absolutely necessary to prevent and reduce disorder. The decision to implement dry trains is not taken lightly or without real reasons for doing so – dry trains have a real impact on passengers – both football supporters and other passengers.

There will be a different approach to dry trains from BTP and the train operating companies this season with dry trains being properly enforced. This means that when there is a dry train, we will warn people about trying to conceal alcohol in an attempt to take it onto the train past the BTP and train operating company staff at the alcohol check point, in contravention of the drink prohibition imposed on the train.

Being obviously drunk and so unsafe to travel, or trying to conceal drink in this manner and with this intention, will lead to people being refused travel. Obviously, people who make a genuine mistake will be asked to dispose of the alcohol rather than being refused travel.

Our intention is to deal with those people who pose a risk of alcohol-related disorder, or to the safety of the train, themselves and others by their behaviour – evidence of which is the deliberate act of concealing alcohol in an attempt to take it onto the train and/or being so drunk that they pose a disorder or safety risk.

The new approach will also mean that as well as the first station where the train departs, there will be an enforced alcohol ban imposed at all subsequent stops as well, before it reaches the match destination. This will prevent the problem of passengers not being allowed to board the train with alcohol at the first station, with nothing then in place at other stations on its route.

As much warning as possible will be given to all passengers about a dry train. This will include staff and posters at the platform ‘gate line’, and announcements on ‘forward’ trains as most dry trains are the ‘return’ trains.

Trying to take alcohol onto a dry train will not lead to arrest or prosecution, but arrests and prosecutions will take place if offences or disorder occurs when the individual is challenged.

What it will lead to, however, is an increase in the number of people who will be refused travel – as those who are obviously drunk or who try to ‘smuggle’ drink onto the train will be refused travel.

We do not expect there to be any increase in the number of dry trains as a result of our new approach.

    • The BTP have promised to inform the FSF of every BTP-requested dry train (some of are enforced by the rail companies rather than BTP). Keep an eye on the FSF Facebook page and Twitter @The_FSF for updates.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to alli_cat for the image reproduced under CC license.

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Funding partners

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  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
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  • Pledgeball
  • SD Europe