Transport Offences

Reviewed and updated: September 2019|Legal Guidance, Driving offences

Headlines

The Guidance outlines the considerations in the following cases:

  • Railway Trespass
  • Offences of endangerment to persons or property on the railway
  • Fare Evasion
  • Criminal Conduct at Sea and in the Air 

Content

This guidance identifies considerations for prosecutors when dealing with Transport offences.

 Railway Offences

(See Stones - Part VI Transport, Railways and Transport)  

 Railway Trespass 

Table of Railway Trespass Offences (N.B: MOT = Method of Trial)

Railway Regulation Act 1840 s16

Wilfully

(can be evidenced by refusal to leave)

Trespass

(a railway may exclude anyone who is not there for the purpose of using the railway)

On a railway

(includes platforms, station concourse, connected premises)

 

Refuse to leave when asked to do so by a railway employee/agent etc. - R (Mair) v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board [2002] P.I.Q. R. P4, QBD

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

1 month imprisonment or level 3 fine

Comment:

Will apply in situations where someone is making a nuisance of themselves on railway premises (e.g. drunk, begging) and refusing to leave.

It will also apply if somebody trespasses on an area of the railway where the public is not allowed (e.g. tracks or embankment) but only if they are asked to leave by an employee and refuse.

Regulation of the Railways Act 1868 s23

 

 

Being on any railway

(does not include the railway platform Thomson v Great North of Scotland Rly Co (1829) 64 JP 178)

Except to cross at an authorised crossing

Having been warned by the railway company/their employees not to go on the railway

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Level 1 fine

Comment:

Applies where people have crossed railways tracks at an unauthorised point. Note the need for a warning which will usually be by written notice.

This offence attracts only a minor penalty. In view of the danger caused by entering any part of a railway not open to the public, prosecutors should carefully consider whether another more serious offence has not been made out. (See “Damaging Trains and Endangering the Safety of Rail Users” elsewhere in this chapter.)

British Transport Commission Act 1949 s55

 

Trespass

On railway lines, sidings, embankments in dangerous proximity to the lines or electrical apparatus

 

Provided that a notice warning people not to trespass has been displayed at the nearest railway station

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Level 3 fine

Comment:

Note the need for the person to be in dangerous proximity.

Note also the need to prove that there was a notice displayed at the railway station.

Although this carries a higher penalty than s23 of the Regulation of the Railways Act 1868, prosecutors should still carefully consider whether a more serious offence is made out (See “Damaging Trains and Endangering the Safety of Rail Users” elsewhere in this chapter.)

Damaging Trains and Endangering the Safety of Rail Users 

See also Legal Guidance on Criminal Damage 

Table of Endangerment Offences

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s32

Placing wood etc. on railway, with intent to endanger passengers

Intentionally

Endangering people’s safety

By unlawfully and maliciously interfering with railway equipment (such as placing items on the line or hiding signals)

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment/unlimited fine

Comment: The actions prohibited are those aimed at the infrastructure of the railway (the lines, signals etc.) rather than the trains. This offence should be used where the trains are not directly attacked but by tampering with the equipment the suspect creates danger to people on the railway.

Offences Against the Person Act 1861 s33

Casting stone etc. upon railway carriage with intent to endanger passengers

Intentionally

Endangering people’s safety

By unlawfully and maliciously throwing objects at trains/carriages etc.

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment/unlimited fine

Comment: This prohibits any direct attack on the train itself (including carriages etc.) where the intent is to injure people on it or endanger their safety

Offences

Against the Person Act 1861 s34

Doing/omitting anything so as to endanger passengers

 

Endangering people’s safety

By any unlawful act or wilful omission

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC- 2 years’ imprisonment/unlimited fine

 

MC – 6 months’ imprisonment/unlimited fine

Comment: “Unlawful act” could include trespass on a railway and where a lesser offence of trespass (see “Railway Trespass” elsewhere in this chapter) has endangered passenger safety, prosecutors should consider charging this offence instead.

“Wilful omission” would include failures to act such as failing to lower barriers at a crossing.

“Endanger” includes exposing to potential danger (R v Pearce [1966] 3 All ER 618)

Malicious Damage Act 1861 s35

Placing wood etc. on railway, with intent to obstruct trains

Intentionally

Obstructing or damaging trains

By unlawfully and maliciously interfering with railway equipment (such as placing items on the line or hiding signals)

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment/

unlimited fine

Comment: The wording mirrors that of s32 OAPA and the only difference is the intent (in this case to endanger trains etc. rather than passengers)

Malicious Damage Act 1861 s36

Obstruction of engines, etc.

 

Obstructing the railway or trains

By any unlawful act or omission

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC- 2 years imprisonment/fine

MC- 6 months imprisonment/unlimited fine

Comment: The wording follows that of s34 OAPA very closely. The main difference is that the intent is to obstruct trains or the running of the railway

British Transport Commission Act 1949 s56

Stone throwing on railway

 

Causing danger of damage to property or injury to persons

By throwing stones etc. at trains or equipment

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Level 3 fine

Comment:

Prosecutors will need to consider whether this charge will give the court adequate sentencing powers.

Intoxication of Employees 

Table of Offences under the Transport and Works Act 1992 

Section 27(1)(a) Unfit through drink or drugs: driver etc.

Working on a railway/tramway etc. (see section 26)

In any capacity in which can control/affect movement of vehicle

While unfit to carry out that work through drink or drugs. “Unfit” is defined at section 27(4): “impaired” – the same test as under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Case law under section 4 of that Act on this issue will apply equally to section 27

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Comment:

Requires DPP consent. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Section 27(1)(b) Unfit through drink or drugs: maintenance capacity

Working on a railway/tramway etc. (see section 26)

In any maintenance capacity (including look-out)

While unfit to carry out that work through drink or drugs. “Unfit” is defined at section 27(4): “impaired” – the same test as under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Case law under section 4 of that Act on this issue will apply equally to section 27.

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Comment:

Requires DPP consent. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Section 27(2)(a) Excess alcohol: driver etc.

Working on a railway/tramway etc. (see section 26)

In any capacity in which can control/affect movement of vehicle

After having consumed alcohol in excess of the prescribed limit

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Comment:

Requires DPP consent. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Note the procedures to be followed for obtaining a specimen. These are set out at sections 31 – 33 and follow the procedures for obtaining evidential specimens under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Section 27(2)(b) Excess alcohol: maintenance capacity

Working on a railway/tramway etc. (see section 26)

In any maintenance capacity (including look-out)

After having consumed alcohol in excess of the prescribed limit

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Comment:

Requires DPP consent. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Note the procedures to be followed for obtaining a specimen. These are set out at sections 31 – 33 and follow the procedures for obtaining evidential specimens under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Section 28 Liability of responsible operator

Being the responsible operator of the transport system

 

Where a person has committed one of the offences under section 27

MOT: Summary only

Penalty:

Six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

Comment:

Requires DPP consent. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Note the “due diligence” defence at section 28(3)

Public Interest 

A prosecution is almost certain to be in the public interest if: 

  • public safety has been placed at risk;
  • passengers or staff have sustained loss, damage or personal injury;
  • serious or widespread disruption and inconvenience has been caused to persons using the transport system. 

A prosecution may not be required where there is a purely technical breach of the law if: 

  • there has been no risk to public safety; and
  • the offence resulted from a genuine oversight or misunderstanding; and
  • no injury or loss has been sustained by either passengers or staff. 

A prosecution may also not be required if the suspect is suffering from mental health issues (e.g. a suicide attempt by trespassing on the railway.) See Mental Disordered Offenders elsewhere in this Legal Guidance. 

For assaults on transport staff, see Offences Against the Person, elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

Fare Evasion

There will often be a choice between specific legislation relating to the form of transport, and proceedings under the Theft Act 1978, or Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. See the Fraud Act 2006 and Forgery and Counterfeiting, elsewhere in the Legal Guidance.  

Fare Evasion Table of Offences

The Regulation of Railways Act 1889 section 5(3)(a): Avoiding payment of fare

Traveling/attempting to travel on a railway

Without having paid the fare

With intent to avoid payment

MOT:

Summary only

Penalty:

Three months prison or Level 3 fine

Comment:

"Intent to avoid payment" does not require a dishonest intent, just an intent to avoid payment of the sum actually due: Browning v Floyd [1946] 2 All E.R. 367: where a man used the return portion of a non-transferable ticket given to him by his wife who had not used it, he was guilty of the offence and she was guilty of aiding and abetting him.

 

The Regulation of Railways Act 1889 section 5(3)(b): Going beyond point for which fare paid

Traveling on the train and remaining beyond a point

Having paid the fare only up to that point

Wilfully and with intent to avoid payment of the additional fare.

MOT:

Summary only

Penalty:

Three months prison or Level 3 fine

Comment:

"Intent to avoid payment” See above.

The Regulation of Railways Act 1889 section 5(3)(c): Giving false name/address

Giving a false name or address to any officer on request

After having failed to pay the fare

 

MOT:

Summary only

Penalty:

Three months prison or Level 3 fine

 

The Railway Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 section 103 Refusing to leave once at destination

Remaining on the train and neglecting/refusing to leave

After it has arrived at the point up to which the fare has been paid

Knowingly and wilfully

MOT:

Summary only

Penalty:

Level 2 fine

Comment:

This offence is very similar to that under s.5(3)(b) of the Regulation of Railways Act, which carries a heavier penalty. This offence may be considered suitable if the train (for whatever reason) does not travel beyond the point up to which the fare is paid but the passenger fails to get off.

Public Interest 

Fare Evasion is the principal form of dishonesty to affect public transport. The fact that it is widespread is a relevant public interest factor. 

Prosecutors should consider using the provisions of the Fraud Act 2006 (See CPS Fraud Act 2006 Legal Guidance), where there is evidence of premeditation, or persistence, or repeat offending, or large loss by the transport authority. Where tickets have been altered or defaced, prosecutors should consider a charge under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 (See CPS Forgery and Counterfeiting Legal Guidance). 

Where fare evasion is opportunistic and there is no significant element of planning, then it will not normally be necessary in the public interest to charge fraud or forgery. In these circumstances, subject to the usual public interest considerations, a charge under section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act or section 103 of the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act may be appropriate. 

Offences Relating to Aircraft or Ships

Criminal behaviour, especially in the air, may well endanger the safety of the craft in which it occurs. Prosecutors may wish to consider charging offensive weapon, public order, or offences against the person, depending on the facts of the case. However, prosecutors should also carefully consider: 

These statutes specifically deal with offences committed on or at aircraft, aerodromes, ships, fixed sea platforms and harbours.

Offences on-board Aircraft 

Courts in the United Kingdom have power to deal with offences which are committed on board any aircraft whilst on the ground or in the air over the United Kingdom. In addition, Section 92 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, (CAA) provides for courts to have jurisdiction in respect of offences committed on British-controlled aircraft whilst “in flight” outside the United Kingdom and United Kingdom airspace. The CAA defines “British-controlled aircraft”. Under the same section, courts in the United Kingdom will have jurisdiction in respect of offences committed on a foreign aircraft (except for military aircraft) outside United Kingdom airspace in the following circumstances: 

  • In the case of an aircraft registered in a foreign country the act or omission must constitute an offence both in this country and under the law in force in that foreign country (the 'dual criminality' test); and
  • The next landing of the aircraft is in the United Kingdom. 

Prosecutors should bear in mind the following: 

  • The period an aircraft is “in flight” is deemed to span the period between the first application of power for the purpose of the aircraft taking off until the moment when the landing run ends at the termination of that flight;
  • The 'dual criminality' test will be deemed to be met unless the defence serve upon the prosecution a notice stating the grounds for their opinion that the test is not met and requiring the prosecution to prove the contrary;
  • If the aircraft is not registered in any country the 'dual criminality' test will not apply. 

Where section 92 is relied on as the basis of jurisdiction, DPP’s consent will be required (unless there is specific provision to the contrary in the statute breached) and so police will not be able to charge without CPS authority. Crown Prosecutors are able to give this consent under section 1(7) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. See Consents to Prosecute elsewhere in this Legal Guidance.

The Aviation Security Act 1982

Part I Offences Against the Safety of Aircraft 

Aviation Security Act 1982: Table of Offences against the Safety of Aircraft  

s1 Hijacking

 

Requires AG’s consent

By force or threats

Seizing or exercising control of an aircraft

In flight

 

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

The offence will not usually apply if either the aircraft is used by military/police/customs or the aircraft takes off and lands in the territory of the state where it is registered.   See s1(2)(i)-(iii) for exceptions to this exemption.

See also s6 for ancillary offences (assaults, homicide etc.) committed in connection with hijacking an aircraft.

s2(1)(a) Endangering the safety of aircraft by damage

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

Destroying/damaging an aircraft

In service

So as to render it incapable of flight/endanger its safety in flight

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction is conferred on UK courts irrespective of where the act is committed, the nationality of the perpetrator or where the aircraft is registered. See s2(4) for certain exceptions where the aircraft is used by military/police/customs.

s2(1)(b) Endangering the safety of aircraft by violence

 

Requires AG’s consent

Unlawfully and intentionally

Committing an act of violence on an aircraft

In flight

Being likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction conferred on the same basis as s2(1)(a). “Act of violence” defined at s2(7) but basically assaults, homicide, causing dangerous explosions etc.)

s2(2) Endangering the safety of aircraft by placing items in it

 

Requires AG’s consent

Unlawfully and intentionally

Placing/causing to be placed any device/substance on an aircraft

In service

Likely to destroy/damage/endanger the aircraft making it incapable of flight/endangering its safety in flight

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction conferred on the same basis as s2(1)(a).

s3(1) Other acts endangering safety of aircraft: destruction/damage/interference

 

Requires AG’s consent

Unlawfully and intentionally

Destroying/damaging/interfering with any property (including property used for air navigation facilities)

 

So as to be likely to endanger the safety of   aircraft in flight

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction is limited to acts within the UK, subject to certain exceptions set out at s3(5) and (6). The scope of this offence covers circumstances in which the aircraft is not directly targeted but its safety is endangered by targeting other property.

s3(3)

Other acts endangering safety of aircraft

 

Requires AG’s consent

Intentionally

Communicating false/misleading information

 

So as to endanger/be likely to endanger the safety of aircraft in flight

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life Imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction is limited to acts within the UK, subject to certain exceptions set out at s3(5) and (6).

S3(4) provides a defence where either the suspect believed on reasonable grounds that the information was true or where they were acting in good faith in the exercise of a duty. This defence would be available to staff who (e.g.) pass on information about hoax calls although they believe the call to be a hoax.

s4 Possessing dangerous articles

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Having with them a dangerous article

 

in any

·         aircraft in or flying over the UK or registered in the UK

·         UK aerodrome

·         Air navigation installation

 

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – Five years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC – Three months imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

Comment:

A person will be deemed to have these articles with them where the articles are in their baggage which is in the aircraft etc. (s4(3))

s7 Obstructing police exercising powers under this Act

Intentionally

Obstructing a constable exercising a power under this Act to arrest or prevent a person entering an aircraft

 

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – Two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC – Unlimited fine

Comment:

Police have powers to arrest/remove a person who is on or about to board an aircraft if they reasonably suspect that person intends to commit an offence under sections 1-3 or a s6 ancillary offence.

Part II Offences relating to security at aerodromes and on aircraft: 

Aviation Security Act 1982: Table of Offences Relating to Security of Aircraft/Aerodromes/Air Navigation Installations  

See also section 1 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 below. 

s21A False statements about baggage etc.

 

Recklessly or knowingly

Making a false statement

In answer to a question about baggage/stores/cargo

Asked for security reasons

By police/aircraft operator/aerodrome employee etc.

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

Comment:

See s21A(1)(b) and (2) for the list of persons who are entitled to ask the questions.

 

s21B False statements about ID documents

Recklessly or knowingly

Making a false statement

To obtain or retain an identity document issued by one of the specified persons

 

 

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

Comment:

The identity documents covered are for staff and the offence is intended to prevent people passing themselves off as entitled to go into restricted areas etc.

See s21B(3) for the list of specified persons.

 

s21C(1)(a) Unauthorised presence in security area

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Going into

A security restricted area of aerodrome or air navigation installation (note the need for a notice clearly displayed at the entrance stating that it is security restricted)

 

Without permission

MOT: summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

 

s21C(1)(b) Remaining on security restricted area

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Remaining on

A security restricted area of aerodrome or air navigation installation

 

After being asked to leave

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

 

s21D(1)(a) Unauthorised presence on aircraft

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Getting on

An aircraft at a UK aerodrome

 

Without permission of the operator

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

 

s21D(1)(b) Remaining on an aircraft

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse

Remaining on

An aircraft at a UK aerodrome

 

After being asked to leave by the operator

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

 

s21E(1)(a) Obstructing an authorised person

Intentionally

Obstructing

An authorised person exercising a power conferred by this Act

 

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – Two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC – Unlimited fine

Comment:

“An authorised person” is defined at s24A(1)

s21E(1)(b) Impersonating an authorised person

Falsely

Pretending to be

An authorised person

 

 

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Unlimited fine

Comment:

“An authorised person” is defined at s24A(1)

The Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO), made under Section 61 of the CAA, creates a number of offences designed to secure the safety of civil aircraft, some relate to the conduct of passengers and air traffic controllers as well as to aircrew. In particular, you should note those on the following (non-exhaustive) table: 

Table of Selected Offences under the Air Navigation Order 2016 

Article 240 Endangerment of aircraft

Recklessly or negligently

Acting in a manner

Likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in it

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – Five years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC- Unlimited fine

Comment:

“Likely” means “a real risk, a risk that should not be ignored” rather than more likely than not: R v Whitehouse [2000] Crim LR 172, CA

Article 241 permitting an aircraft to cause danger

Recklessly or negligently

Causing or permitting an aircraft

To endanger any person or property

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC- Unlimited fine

 

Article 242(1) Drunkenness in aircraft (passengers)

 

Enter or be in any aircraft

 

When drunk

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC- Unlimited fine

Comment:

The concept of drunkenness is sufficiently clear and the question whether a defendant has been drunk on an aircraft is a matter of fact for the jury: R v Tagg [2002] 1 Cr. App. R 2

See also Sections 92 and 93 of The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, under “Drunkenness and Impairment of Aircrew”, below.

Article 242(2) Drunkenness in aircraft (crew)

 

Acting as member of crew

 

When under the influence of drink or drugs so that their capacity is impaired

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC- Unlimited fine

Comment:

“Drunkenness”

See 242(1) above.

See also Sections 92 and 93 of The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, under “Drunkenness and Impairment of Aircrew”, below.

Article 243 Smoking

 

Smoking in an aircraft registered in the UK

When the “no smoking” sign is displayed

 

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Level 4 fine

 

Article 244 Obeying pilot

 

Failing to obey

Lawful commands of pilot

Given for the purposes of safety or regularity

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Level 4 fine

 

Article 245(a) and (b) threatening etc. words/behaviour

 

Using threatening/ insulting/abusive words/behaviour or disorderly behaviour

Towards crew

 

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Level 4 fine

 

Article 245(c) Interference with crew

Intentionally

Interfere with

Performance of duty by crew member

 

MOT: Either-way

Penalty:

CC – Two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both

MC – Unlimited fine

 

Article 246 Stowaways

 

Secreting themselves

Without consent of the pilot/operator etc.

 

MOT: Summary only

Penalty: Level 4 fine

 

For assaults on members of staff, consider also Offences Against the Person, elsewhere in Legal Guidance. 

Prosecutors will often have a choice of proceeding under the CAA or the ANO. Some offences under the CAA are summary only, whereas an equivalent offence under the ANO may well be triable either way, such as offences under Articles 240, 241 and 242. Prosecutors should therefore consider: 

  • the likely disposal of the case;
  • the level of danger, actual or perceived, occasioned by the defendant's actions

Public Interest 

A prosecution is almost certain to be in the public interest if:

  • public safety has been placed at risk;
  • passengers or staff have sustained loss, damage or personal injury;
  • serious or widespread disruption and inconvenience has been caused to persons using the transport system.
  • Unruly, drunken or violent behaviour on board an aircraft is dangerous and will almost always require a prosecution. 

A prosecution may not be required where there is a purely technical breach of the law if:

  • there has been no risk to public safety; and
  • the offence resulted from a genuine oversight or misunderstanding; and
  • no injury or loss has been sustained by either passengers or staff.

Drunkenness/Impairment of Aircrew and Controllers

Table of Offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 

S92Being unfit for duty

Performs an aviation function or activity ancillary to an aviation function

While ability to do so is impaired

Due to drink or drugs

MOT:

Either-way

Penalty:

CC – 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

MC – unlimited fine

Comment:

See s96 for procedures to be followed for provision of specimens (modelled on the Road Traffic Act procedures.)

 

S94 defines “aviation function” and “ancillary activity.”

 

See also Article 242(2) of the ANO above, which carries the same penalty but is limited to aircrew.

 

S93 In excess of prescribed limit

Performs an aviation function or activity ancillary to an aviation function

 

While the proportion of alcohol in their breath/blood/urine is in excess of the prescribed limit

MOT:

Either-way

Penalty:

CC – 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine

MC – unlimited fine

Comment:

Note the different prescribed limits depending on the function (s93(2) and (3))

 

See s96 for procedures to be followed for provision of specimens (modelled on the Road Traffic Act procedures.)

 

S94 defines “aviation function” and “ancillary activity.”

 

Public Interest 

Prosecutions will normally be in the public interest as drunkenness or impairment through drink or drugs on the part of air crew or controllers is dangerous and will undermine public confidence in the safety of air travel. Apart from the usual public interest considerations, it will be less likely that a prosecution is required if the suspect was not aware that they had consumed the drugs or alcohol (e.g. if it was the content of prescribed medication and the suspect did not know and had no reason to suspect that the medication would affect their fitness to carry out their functions.) 

Offences at Sea or at Aerodromes

The Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 provides for offences relating to security at aerodromes, on ships or fixed sea platforms and at harbours: Table of Selected Offences under Parts I and II of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 

Part I Aviation Security 

s1(1): Endangering safety at aerodrome – violence

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

Intentionally

Using any device, substance or weapon to commit an act of violence (defined at s1(9).)

At an aerodrome serving international civil aviation

Causing death or serious injury (or likely to do so) AND endangering the safe operation of the aerodrome or safety of persons at it (or likely to do so)

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

The offence can be committed even if the act took place outside the UK. (s1(3).)

 

s1(2): Endangering safety at aerodrome – damage

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

Using any device, substance or weapon to destroy or seriously damage property used to provide facilities OR any aircraft (not in service) OR disrupt services

 

At an aerodrome serving international civil aviation

Endangering the safe operation of the aerodrome or safety of persons at it.

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

The offence can be committed even if the act took place outside the UK (s1(3)) subject to certain exceptions in the case of aircraft, set out at s1(4).

“Unlawfully” is defined at s1(9). Briefly, the action must be an offence in its own right and apart from the provisions of this Act.

 

 Part II – Ships and Fixed Platforms

s9: Hijacking ships

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

If the offence was committed by a foreign national within territorial waters then the provisions of s 3 of the Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act 1878 (“the TWJA”) will apply, under which the Secretary of State must consent to the proceedings and must certify that it is expedient to institute the proceedings.

Unlawfully

By use of force or threats

Seizes a ship

 

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

The offence may be committed whether inside or outside the UK but subject to certain exceptions for warships etc., set out at s9(2).

 

 

s10:Seizing fixed platforms

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

Unlawfully

By use of force or threats

 

Seizes a fixed platform

 

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

The offence may be committed whether inside or outside the UK.

s11(1)(a): Destroying ships/fixed platforms

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

 

Destroys a ship or fixed platform

 

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

“Unlawfully” for the purposes of this section is defined under s11(7). Briefly, the action must be an offence in its own right and apart from the provisions of this Act.

 

The offence may be committed whether inside or outside the UK subject to certain exceptions in respect of warships etc., set out at s11(5).

s11(1)(b): Damaging a ship/fixed platform

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

 

Damages a ship (or its cargo) or a fixed platform

Endangering the safe navigation of the ship or safety of the fixed platform, or likely to do so

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

See above (s11(1)(a)) for definition of “unlawfully” and for jurisdiction.

s11(1)(c): Endangering safety of ship or fixed platform

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

 

Commits an act of violence (defined at s11(7)) on board a ship or fixed platform

Likely to endanger the safe navigation of the ship or safety of the fixed platform,

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

See above (s11(1)(a)) for definition of “unlawfully” and for jurisdiction.

s11(2)(a): Using a device to endanger the safety of a ship/fixed platform

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

 

Placing a device or substance

On a ship so as to be likely to destroy it or damage it (or its cargo) so as to endanger its safe navigation OR on a fixed platform so as to be likely to destroy it or damage it so as to endanger its safety

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

See above (s11(1)(a)) for definition of “unlawfully” and for jurisdiction.

s12(1): Other acts endangering safe navigation

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

Unlawfully and intentionally

 

Destroying, damaging or interfering with property

So as to be likely to endanger the safety of ship navigation.

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

Definition of “unlawfully” is as under s11 – see above.

 

The offence may be committed whether inside or outside the UK subject to certain exceptions in respect of warships etc., set out at s12(6).

s12(3):False information

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

 

Intentionally

 

Communicate false information knowing it to be false

So as to endanger the safe navigation of a ship

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction - s12(1) above.

s13(1): Threats to commit a s11(1) offence

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

 

In order to compel someone to do or not do some act

 

Threatens to commit an offence under s11(1) of the Act

The threat is likely to endanger the safe navigation of a ship or safety of a fixed platform

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

The offence may be committed inside or outside the UK.

s13(2): Threats to commit a s11(2) offence

 

Requires AG’s consent

 

See also s3 of the TWJA above.

 

 

In order to compel someone to do or not do some act

 

Threatens to commit an offence under s12(1) of the Act

The threat is likely to endanger the safe navigation of a ship

MOT: Indictable only

Penalty:

Life imprisonment

Comment:

Jurisdiction is as s12(1) and (3) – see comments above.  

The Provisions of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 implement the provisions of the SUA convention and its 1988 Protocol on Fixed Platforms.

Public Interest 

A prosecution is almost certain to be in the public interest if: 

Public safety has been placed at risk

  • passengers or staff have sustained loss, damage or personal injury;
  • serious or widespread disruption and inconvenience has been caused to persons using the transport system. 

A prosecution may not be required where there is a purely technical breach of the law if: 

  • there has been no risk to public safety; and
  • the offence resulted from a genuine oversight or misunderstanding; and
  • no injury or loss has been sustained by either passengers or staff.

Prosecution by Other Authorities 

Transport legislation includes a series of offences which will not be prosecuted by CPS under Section 3(2)(a) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. These include minor cases of fare evasion under the Public Service Vehicle Regulations and proceedings under Part II of the Aviation Security Act 1982. Offences under the Airports Act 1986 will normally be prosecuted by the Secretary of State for Transport or by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the event of a member of either organisation being accused of an offence under the Airports Act, it has been agreed that the case will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to avoid a conflict of interest.

Further reading