A BUS company has stepped up its campaign to catch fare dodgers.

Four Huddersfield passengers who had been caught trying to ride the bus on the cheap have appeared in court - and each was hit with a £235 fine.

And more offenders are expected to follow.

Halifax-based First Yorkshire is starting to reap the rewards of employing undercover inspectors on buses to foil the dodgers.

At Dewsbury Magistrates' Court Hamid Abbasi, of Woodhead Road, Berry Brow; Maxamed Maxamed, of Holme Park Court, Berry Brow; Owen Williams, of Elder Road, Bradley; and Banaz Abdulla, of Bradley Boulevard, Sheepridge, were all found guilty.

They had been caught by inspectors on buses and given a standard £35 fine. But they refused to pay and First took them to court.

Inspectors work after tip-offs from drivers who suspect passengers of trying to con the company.

Offenders are fined for a number of scams, from simply travelling more stops than they have paid for to forging bus passes.

Nigel Winter, First commercial director, said people could no longer ignore paying the correct amount.

"Things are legally watertight. We do not lose these actions when they get to court," he added.

"People think they can pay a low fare and ride for much longer to save themselves a few pence.

"We know who they are and we will get them and fine them. If they decide not to pay they will end up in court.

"That will leave them a little bit more out of pocket than simply paying the full fine would have done," said Mr Winter.

Paul Kirkham, First's revenue protection officer, acts as the prosecutor in court. He has promised more cases.

He said: "We have begun a massive clampdown. With using the system of driver and inspector we are finding out the people trying to get away without paying.

"But we are not being heavy-handed with these people. We are acting fairly.

"Each person who is caught gets a letter. From then they have 10 days to reply in writing, outlining any excuses or reasons for what they have done.

"They then get another 10 days while we reply to that letter to give them our reaction. If they still refuse to pay we send them a reminder and they get another seven days from then.

"At any point they could pay the £35 fine and we would drop the proceedings. If they want to fight we see them in court - and they always lose.

"The reason we are so determined to stop people trying to get away with not paying is because it is not fair to the people who abide by the law."

First has vowed to continue its hard line. The next court date is set for April 6.