Tuesday, 14 July 2009

An unwelcome disturbance - UPDATED

I've been in touch with Councillor David Theobald, a leading voice in Sutton for autistic people and their families, and he's told me about a disturbing incident that happened in the borough the other week.

Five children from Stowford College were on a class outing to Cheam Park and were accompanied by a teacher with all of the required passes for their lunchtime trip on the 213 bus. For some reason that's not entirely clear the driver called an Inspector who arrived accompanied by two other officials and they then apparently manhandled these disabled children from the bus, pinned them against the wall and shouted at them. Now you have to remember that none of these five children can speak so quite what they thought would be acheived by this I don't know. Imagine "Rain Man" being put in that situation and you're not too far from what was happening.

Apparently the school are now appealing the £125 of fines that the boys were given as a result of the incident so if, like me, you're disgusted with the treatment that these children received and the hands of the TFL Inspectors then comment below or send this story on to your friends.
UPDATE: The TFL Press Office have just got back to me with the following:
A Transport for London spokesperson said: “We are cancelling all the Penalty Fares with immediate effect, and apologise for any distress that may have unintentionally been caused in this case.

“Nevertheless, we must stress that a carer’s responsibility when travelling with vulnerable passengers on public transport includes ensuring that all the correct passes are carried.”

Additional briefing.
· The ticket inspector clearly explained that in issuing the Penalty Fares for the young passengers, he was confident that they would be cancelled if a copy of their passes was provided in appeal, and he encouraged the adult passenger to do this.
· The Revenue Protection Inspector did not ask anyone to leave the bus. The matter was dealt with on the top deck, and the RPI only accompanied the group off the bus when they had reached their destination.

Stowford College


Cllr David Theobald said...

This was an appalling incident which defies logic. I would suggest that TFL have breached Disabilty Discrimination Law and also the Human Rights of a number of people.

I'm disgusted and intend to make sure that no one capable of this kind of bigotted, ignorant behaviour has the right to wear any uniform in this Borough!

Cllr David Theobald said...

TFL have very nobly denied this ever occurred. I have requested a copy of their statement and also the footage from the on board camera of the incident. Strange that they deny it when they have actually fined five children £25 each which will double every 21 day s until paid. There must be quite a few noses growing very rapidly at TFL HQ

Councillor David Theobald said...

Ah, so the school have lied all the way along then! Now I understand. How silly of me to ever think that TFL would mislead anyone.

I know what happened, TFL are just trying to duck out of there responsibility and avoid the inevitable excrement/fan collisions. Scrapping the fine is one thing, no mention of compensation.

I quote from official statements

Hi Julia
Just got back, Boris wasnt kind to me trying to get a bus home! Ive met him loads of times and always seems a decent guy.

Scanner is f***** thanks to George (by the way, Eagle House has a confirmed case of Swine Flu!) but I'm skim reading the statements and here are some excerpts.

"Our students are severely autistic and are therefore disabled by virtue of their limited physical and social functioning. They do not have the social competence and understanding to deliberately evade a fare as they are completely reliant upon adult support when they go out into the community"

"the driver, who should be praised, in the spirit and intent of the student pass, particluarly for Special Needs Students, let the party board the 213 bus"

"A couple of stops later, 3 transport officers boarded the bus. They approached the class team and asked to see everyones passes and cards. The 3 teachers produced their passes and began to explain that the children were SEN and did not need to pay for this ride. The officers said that we chose to ignore the bus drivers warning and got on anyway. The bus driver had given no warning in any sense. Tim was reaching for his wallet to pay for the fares (£2 x 5 Students = £10) when the driver indicated to the officers to "let it go"

"One of the officers was standing near the students and, when she was approached byone of the students (*******) she abruptly recoiled from her with a facial expression that was derogatory and discriminatory"

"We were escorted off the bus and made to stand against a brick wall in hot sun while the officers demanded the names and addresses of the students. We did not know the students home addresses or dates of birth and gave Eagle House School, Sutton as the address"

Not quite what TFL are saying and this is watered down as well.