In September last year when Livingstone launched his free travel for Under 16s policy, he promised to withdraw the passes of the minority of youngsters who misbehaved on the buses, promising a virtually instantaneous response to anti social behaviour. An expensive advertising campaign warned that vandalism, drinking or smoking would result in individuals losing their concessionary pass. A year on, (MQT September 2006) I decided to check on progress:
Roger Evans: How many free travel concessions have been withdrawn specifically for anti social behaviour, or breach of the behaviour code, since the introduction of the policy?
Ken Livingstone: Four (!!!!) free passes have been withdrawn due to anti social behaviour. Since the scheme started in September 2005 some 1644 free travel concessions have been withdrawn mainly for misuse of the concession.
Misuse of the concession refers to use of cards by those not entitled to them. Vandalism, drinking and smoking are included in the anti social behaviour category - an impressive one card withdrawn every twelve weeks!
Two possible explanations - (a) there is virtually no anti social behaviour by people under 16 on the buses, as suggested by the Mayor, or (b) the much trumpeted deterrent is unenforceable in its advertised form.
Police officers are now advised that they do not have the power to withdraw travel cards from suspects. Clearly this response to anti social behaviour was more virtual than instantaneous.