Sneak Preview: The Inspector Formula

As a response to the recent incident regarding tram inspector brutality:

I have decided to release a snippet of my article for everyone’s benefit. The full one will be much more comprehensive. It is coming out in one week and will include a few corrections and confirmation from transportation lawyers I am in conversations with. But for now, this is what you need to know.



Introduction and Preface


While this guide will attempt to give accurate and factual information, due to the nature of testimony and subjectivity involved, there may be inconsistencies. Use the information here at your own risk. Neither Peng nor other contributors are responsible for the accuracy of any information provided nor actions taken as a result of the information.

What this guide is:

This guide is a compilation and summary of various experiences people have had with inspectors. It contains personal testimonies from fellow Melbournians, official instructions from various government and commercial websites, and expert advice from transportation lawyers. While also applicable to buses and trains, focus will be on tram use. It is hoped that this guide will clarify the options available to commuters, the roles and operation of tram inspectors, and reduce the stress of meeting inspectors.

What this guide is not:

This guide does not seek to encourage fare evasion, and is written solely for the benefit of the consumer in the unfortunate event that they find themselves without a valid ticket.

The guide is broken into:

  • The Inspector: detailed description and analysis
  • Routes and stops: Where inspectors are most frequently found
  • Frequency and timing: when would you find an inspector?
  • Meeting an inspector: meeting an inspector while boarding, travelling on, and exiting a tram
  • Options and consequences: what are the various consequences for actions available
  • Contesting a fine: what possible steps you can take subsequent to being issued a fine


Sneak Peek (Arrest and use of force):

Arrest and use of force

This section directly addresses the implications of being put under arrest. This authority is placed by the Transport Act of 1983.

The important clause is that inspectors must use “no more force than is reasonably necessary” to obtain personal information. This subjectivity depends on the judgement of inspectors, but precedents have shown than inspectors have used excessive force in the past to arrest individuals.

Read more about the Transport Act (1983) here:

See videos regarding forceful arrest and detainment attempts by ticket inspectors:–dm0

At the same time, another consideration is that officially, inspectors have been told not to interfere with passengers for their own safety. This leaked memo in 2013 shows instructions to all tram inspectors not to block the path of or surround fare evaders:

It should be noted that while inspectors may not deliberately cause harm to you or your property, this often happens as a result of a forced arrest and evidence of this could be used against inspectors in a magistrate court (See contesting a fine).

Your experience would heavily depend on the inspectors in this case. Some may prematurely detain you forcefully if they do not feel comfortable, others may only do so if you have struck an officer (in that case you have committed assault, rather than just fare-evasion so it is justified). Officially, they should only detain you under extreme circumstances, but we can see that in practice this is not followed.

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