A teenager was put in handcuffs and surrounded by officers when his phone died and he couldn’t tap out at Oxford Circus. Photos have emerged showing three transport officers grabbing the 18-year-old’s arms and arresting him after he tried to get through the ticket barriers on his way to work. A former youth worker saw what was happening and confronted the officers, asking them why they had to detain him for such a minor offence. Shareefa told Metro.co.uk: ‘He was obviously under a lot of stress having just come out of a hot train at rush hour. ‘He wasn’t thinking straight and showed them the wrong card he’d used to tap in.’ The boy was placed under arrest on suspicion of fare evasion and officers began searching through his bags for an ID.
Shareefa said she asked the officers to take the boy to a quieter part of the station so he didn’t have to be ‘humiliated’ at such a busy time. She said: ‘I told them, “Just take the handcuffs off him, there’s no need for that.” ‘They said, “How do you know he’s not got anything on him?” ‘I said “I thought this was about a ticket fine?”’ Shareefa said she continually asked questions and refused to leave the boy for 40 minutes, until the officers agreed to let the boy charge his phone. Once his phone was switched on, Transport for London staff realised he had tapped in and hadn’t done anything criminal.
He was then ‘de-arrested’ and allowed to continue his journey, British Transport Police (BTP) said. Shareefa said the ‘ridiculous’ arrest could have cost the boy his job. She said: ‘There was no need for three officers to manhandle him and put their hands on him.’ She added: ‘I’m sure if it was myself or a white person, it wouldn’t have escalated like that over a ticket fine. ‘I’ve been in the situation before where I’ve just found out someone passed away and I didn’t tap in.
‘I tried to tap out and I got a fine. I was quite hysterical about it but no one threatened me with arrest at all.’ A BTP spokesperson said arresting someone for fare evasion is a last resort, and only happens if they can’t provide a method of payment, or a name and address for where a penalty fare can be sent. In a statement, the spokesperson said: ‘Shortly after 6pm on 16 October, an 18-year-old man was arrested at Oxford Circus station on suspicion of fare evasion. ‘Following efforts by officers to deescalate the situation, officers charged the man’s phone which meant he was able to use his phone to tap out of the TfL network. ‘He was then de-arrested and was allowed to continue his journey.’