It's been part of the culture of getting to the match for years . but the buggers are after us!
Less than a week after being created, ‘Checky Watch’ has gathered more than 10,000 likes on the social networking site, launched its own website of the same name, and is organising a protest over the cost of Metro fares.
Group members are encouraged to post the whereabouts of inspectors – which could tip off those using the travel system without a ticket.
But the site’s creator, Ben Heywood Potts, 21, from Jarrow, has taken to video-sharing site YouTube to stress that the purpose of the page is to slash the price of tickets, and not to travel for free.
He said: “This page is not pushing to make Metros free, it’s trying to get the price down.
“By doing this we’re showing the Checkys one person won’t make a difference, but 5,000-odd will make a lot of difference. So if people don’t buy tickets, they will see this hole in their pockets.”
But bosses at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates the Metro on behalf of Nexus, says the page should be closed.
Sharon Kelly, director of customer services, said: “This page promotes criminal activity, and as a result we expect Facebook to shut it down, as it has before when similar pages have appeared on the social networking site.
“Our ticket inspectors change their work patterns and routes they operate on to prevent groups like this from being successful.
“They also operate in plain clothes, so we are one step ahead of the fare dodgers.
“Fare dodgers should ask themselves if it’s worth risking a criminal record and a big fine for the sake of just a few pounds for a ticket.”
The inspectors are supported by the Northumbria Police Metro Unit, and stressed that travelling on trains without a valid ticket could lead to a prosecution in the criminal courts, and a fine of up to £500.
In 2013, a number of key Metro stations in the region will also have automatic ticket gates installed, which will make it even harder for fare dodgers.
However, the creator of the site is also organising a protest on Sunday, and is calling for fans to meet in Newcastle to follow inspectors around the system while wearing high-visibility clothing.
Northumbria Police Metro Unit Inspector Dave Gould said: “It is an offence to travel on the Metro trains without a ticket, and anyone who chooses to do so can be prosecuted.
“We work closely with Metro staff and support ticket inspectors in keeping the Metros safe and secure for all passengers.”