Advice please - notice of prosecution

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Tom the Chief, 10 Jul 2019.

  1. Tom the Chief

    Tom the Chief Member

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    Good evening all!

    On July 4th my wife and daughter started what was meant to be a day trip from Crediton to Exmouth.

    They joined the 1137 train at Crediton, an unmanned station with no ticket machine - you buy your tickets from the guard on-board the train

    As soon as they boarded the train they found seats as the service was not busy.
    The guard approached them before the train departed from Crediton
    They both have rail cards (young persons and senior rail cards), these were presented and the guard was asked which would be the best ticket to buy, given the time they wanted to travel back
    The guard said it would be a cheap day return.
    They presented payment and their rail cards but the guard said he would not sell them a ticket, as he was off at Exeter, the next stop, and his colleague would do it when he joined the train. He then spoke to the gentleman in the seat opposite, who said he was getting off at Exeter - and the guard sold him a ticket.
    My wife and daughter remained in the seats for the next 30 mins or so as the train proceeded too Exmouth and did not see either the original guard or the one that was mean to join the train at Exeter.

    On getting off at Exmouth, they started looking for a member of staff to ask how they could still get the day return ticket then needed. They spotted a long queue of people waiting to get out of the station and two men in GWR uniforms checking tickets. They joined the long queue and when at the front asked the GWR staff how they could get tickets as they had been unable to get them on the train
    The GWR staff told them to step to one side and wait, while the rest of the queue was dealt with
    Once everyone had been let through- the GWR staff member and his colleague approached my wife and daughter and asked
    "do you have tickets"
    My wife said no, explained again that they had joined at Crediton, at an unmanned station, been approached by the on the train guard, who declined to sell them a ticket, and had approached the first uniformed GWR staff they could find at Exmouth to ask for help. They had stood in a long queue deliberately waiting to speak to the GWR staff, rails cards and purse in hand, naively thinking these gentlemen would help them.
    The GWR staff member responded by saying he was a revenue officer, could not sell them tickets, told them they would be interviewed under caution and reported for prosecution, for travelling on the railway without a ticket.

    My wife phoned me in considerable distress - and I contacted customer services to try and sort out what was happening - but no one would listen or seemed to care in the slightest. I managed to get the call logged, and have that log number recorded. I subsequently got the matter elevated to a customer service manager in GWR, (In the midlands I think he was based?) and I explained that the CCTV on the train and at Exmouth station would prove what had happened, and that we couldn't understand why the guard on the train at Credition did not sell the tickets he was asked for?
    At the time the guard approached my wife on the train, she was, by coincidence on the phone to the chairman of the local council, who well remembers her saying, "I have to go now as the guard is here and I need to pay for my tickets". This call is time stamped, and matched the time the train was Credition station. It would also allow for the CCTV footage to be synchronized and would clearly show the guard talking to my wife, not selling the ticket he was asked for then approaching and selling a ticket to the next passenger.

    No matter what we do now we hit a brick wall - no one will talk to us or listen. My wife is at her wits end and I have no idea what to do next to get anyone at GWR to listen, They wont respond or discuss or pass me or my wife onto anyone that can help. How can this be right? My wife and daughter did all they could to get a ticket - and instead of being helped were simply accused of an offence.

    GWR have said on the phone they would recover the CCTV and talk to the guard, but when I asked again for confirmation this had been done - they refused to give me "any further information"
    They said the "maintenance team" would download the CCTV - and that was it - but wont confirm this has been completed, and I am told by GWR customer service after 7 days the hard drive over rights.

    In desperation we have tried writing to Mark Hopwood CEO GWR and our MP - but only get automated responses.

    If any one has any ideas on how I can get this mess sorted out - please do let me know - My wife is completely stressed out by all this, and can not understand how GWR can treat people so badly - and truth be told neither can I. I have never had any such similar encounter in the past, so this is all quite a shock - at how little access or ability a customer has to communicate into the company.

    Thank you all - please do let me know if you need any more detail or information.

    Best regards to all

    Tom
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2019
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  3. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Did the interview under caution happen, and was any paperwork completed?

    And purely for completeness, did they return home by train and if so what tickets did they buy at Exmouth?

    Just to confirm that if they travelled from an unstaffed station and were unable to pay on the train then they have committed no offence.
     
  4. Tom the Chief

    Tom the Chief Member

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    Hello, Thank you so much for responding so quickly!

    They had to sign a statement - I think it was on an electronic device - and were given a small card which says they will be reported for prosecution.
    The suggestion from the revenue officer is that they tried to leave the station with out paying, but they actually queued up and waited to deliberately speak to these gentlemen, as they were the only people they could find who were GWR staff.
    They were not apprehended by the revenue officers - they purposely approached them.
    They explained this several times - the revenue officer responded by saying to my wife "I bet you would have just walked out if we were not here!" - and too my daughter the other one said "your Mother and you don't look the type - but rules are rules". They were wearing body cameras - so all this will be recorded too.
    My wife responded by saying she had wanted a return ticket - all she wanted the staff to do was tell her how she could obtain the ticket for the journey completed and get the ticket for home - they were foolishly walking around with purse and rail cards in hand looking for someone to help.

    They had gone to Exmouth to visit an elderly relative in a hospice who is very close to passing away now, that visit is also recorded - it wasn't like they were on a fun day out - at the end of the day they were just so stressed out by it all that a friend volunteered to drive them all the way back home in their car.
     
  5. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    I'm failing to see how the law has been broken here. The byelaws don't apply as the station had no issuing facilities and the regulation of railways act cannot apply as your wife seemed to be stumbling over herself to pay! I'm almost tempted to let GWR embarass themselves in court.
     
  6. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Frankly, I suspect you're getting a confused response from GWR as this case is so recent. Train companies investigating such incidents often take several months to follow them up - at a guess, your wife's case is in a file somewhere that no-one has looked at and has not been processed.

    At some point, the interview will be read by someone in the prosecutions team, who sees no law has been broken, and no further action is taken. If GWR have any sense then that's what will happen.

    I'd suggest for now putting this to the back of your mind. Keep a written record of what happened (you've done a pretty good job in your post here) and of any supporting evidence you might want to use in the unlikely event this does go to court. There's a chance GWR will look into following this up by writing to you but I have a strong suspiscion you'll never hear from them.
     
    Last edited: 10 Jul 2019
  7. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I also suspect this is the case.
    Making clear notes now while everything is fresh in mind is a very good idea.
    I share the expectation that if you hear from them it will be to say that no action is going to be taken.
     
  8. some bloke

    some bloke Member

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    This sounds like a rough experience, and you all have my sympathy.

    Train companies may tend to say things which are more menacing than their actual position. Could you say what the exact wording is on the card (or upload a photo with any identifying details removed)?

    The usual procedure is to write to the passenger asking for their side of the story. It would be rare for them to simply start legal proceedings first. After receiving the passenger's version, they can then drop the case or - if they still believe there was an offence - offer a settlement instead of prosecution.

    It sounds like there may have been some confusion between GWR staff about who was supposed to check tickets on the train.

    It might be useful to make notes particularly about the conductor's appearance, and precisely what they said and did. The notes could be useful for a response if GWR write and ask.

    Something which staff seem to have (perhaps unreasonably and rudely) emphasised is the idea that your wife and daughter may have behaved in a suspect way at the exit. So maybe your wife and daughter could briefly think whether there are any details relevant to that.

    In a case so apparently clear-cut, is it worth the family taking other action such as pre-emptively contacting the prosecutions department, going to a local newspaper etc?
     
  9. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Well it seems that they've already done some of this. If sufficiently public it might get things closed more quickly, but it's also more emotional and actual work than letting it follow the likely path of GWR not following it up.
     
  10. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    I don't think so at this stage - if it got as far as GWR actually threatening prosecution then that would be different.
     
  11. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    These people should have been believed and sold a ticket. Period.
    I'm sure the press would be interested in such a tale.
    A major review of the activities and practices of the TOCs and their contractors in such matters is long, long overdue, and the more bad press they get (IMO) the better.
     
  12. MichaelAMW

    MichaelAMW Member

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    That is utterly disgusting. Whatever his twisted evil prejudiced mind might think, they hadn't walked out so his idiot assumptions are of no relevance. I would rarely say this, because we all make mistakes, but someone with that attitude in that job should be sacked for gross misconduct.

    I think it's highly likely this will get dropped but what angers me is that the OP will get no compensation (of whatever form might be appropriate) for all the hassle and upset they have been caused.
     
  13. Tom the Chief

    Tom the Chief Member

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    My thanks to you all for your feed back and support . It makes so much difference to hear that we are not on our own now!. I will try and up load a picture of the card the revenue officer handed to my wife and daughter.
    This whole event has made for a very upsetting time and it does seem outrageous at a time when every perceivable minority group have protective rights almost showered on them, that the public using the railways can still be treated so badly, without any available redress or ability to hold the operators to account.
    The shame is that we have always previously enjoyed the service provided by GWR but this has certainly opened my eyes to the fact that when things go wrong, you have no input into the company. Customer support has been shameful and I too now feel I want to turn this onto GWR to expose them for what they have done. Not just as a reaction but to do something to change the system and stop this happening to someone else, as GWR customer services are not even interested in any learning or improvement, probably to avoid any implied liability or wrong doing. Either way, it's been a rough week...all the best and thank you all again!...
     
    Last edited: 11 Jul 2019 at 11:35
  14. Adam Williams

    Adam Williams Member

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    Folks more experienced with these matters than me: Is there value in submitting a formal subject access request ASAP to try and protect CCTV footage in cases like these?
     
  15. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    There could be some value in it, and there's certainly no downside to it - but ultimately it will, if anything, harm GWR's case more than the OP's if it did go to Court and they failed to keep CCTV that could have assisted in determining the facts. After all, GWR are the ones who have to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt.
     
  16. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    I'm sorry but I really can't let this go unnoted. It is totally unnecessary to raise this point, and please be assured that the rights "showered" on any member of what you very dismissively describe as "every perceivable minortiy group" have had no impact upon the way in which your family was (badly) treated. It is a shame that in reflecting on a negative experience for yourself and your family that you feel the need to respond this way. I will be providing no further advice on this thread.
     
  17. Tom the Chief

    Tom the Chief Member

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    Of

    Oh - that was a little unexpected - no offence was intended, and i think I either didn't make my point correctly or it is the frustration of keyboard conversations - thanks for your contribution anyway. All the best.
     
  18. kristiang85

    kristiang85 Member

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    I think he was trying to articulate the frustration that we live in an age where even small grievances from certain protected groups are (rightly) sorted out publicly by companies and apologies issued, yet almost daily there are abuses of power by TOCs on innocent passengers, and this is largely ignored by the industry, the companies and their regulators. I certainly didn't see any malice in his comment.
     
  19. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Ok I think you should chill your language here just a tad. Asking people if they would’ve just left is a normal part of an investigation and whilst I don’t disbelieve the op account of this it’s worth pointing out that this is second hand information which was from someone obviously stressed out at being asked such a thing so may have got wording wrong due to being angry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 11 Jul 2019 at 17:59
  20. Tom the Chief

    Tom the Chief Member

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    Thank you for your response - you are exactly right - I didn't mean any offence - and your interpretation is exactly the sentiment I wished to convey. Oh well - not to worry!
     
  21. RPI

    RPI Member

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    The elephant in the room is were you stopped after having left the station? The West guys regularly block Exmouth station but they stand out the front of the station, in order to reach where they are you have to walk past the Ticket office window and two Ticket Vending machines, guards not doing tickets is becoming far too common too unfortunately
     
  22. RPI

    RPI Member

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    Also the GWR inspectors all wear bodyworn CCTV which like any CCTV can be requested.
     
  23. MichaelAMW

    MichaelAMW Member

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    There is a big difference between the question, "What would you have done if I had not been here?", and the statement, "I bet you would have... etc.", which is an unfounded accusation. On the other hand, if you are suggesting that maybe the first was said but the second "remembered, as it were, then fair enough.
     
  24. MichaelAMW

    MichaelAMW Member

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    That's exactly how I saw the remark. The diversity agenda is a good thing, obviously, but it seems to ignore and even marginalise the majority, and people in situations, such as this one, where it doesn't apply. I suppose what I mean is that people often behave badly or indifferently towards others except when they are in real danger of geting into trouble, which means that protection from others' bad actions is patchy and variable to say the least.
     
  25. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    A few random remarks.

    Do the TVMs at Exmouth sell tickets from another station? If not, their presence isn't relevant.

    Were the queues and revenue officers visible before passing the ticket office such that they might look like the right place to pay?

    The offence in question here requires evidence of an intention not to pay often proved through actions (e.g. walking past an open ticket office without buying a ticket) - and it can be committed momentarily, such that later actions don't undo what's already happened - the offence isn't cancelled out by offering to pay after committing it.

    Even where there's evidence of an offence that could be prosecuted, in normal circumstances, people who co-operate with GWR can agree an out-of-court settlement and avoid being taken to court, in line with the company's published policy [link].
     
    Last edited: 11 Jul 2019 at 20:38
  26. RPI

    RPI Member

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    As you walk out of exmouth station you go through a door to your left, you have to walk around the corner then down the ramp, where the RPI'S usually stand is on the corner so that they're out of sight from people exiting the station, again, I wasn't there so I'm assuming that they were in the normal location.
     
  27. MotCO

    MotCO Member

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    If the queue for the ticket inspection was beyond the ticket office, but to the 'man in the street', it could look as though that was where you had to queue for tickets. Again the 'man in the street' would not necessarily know that ticket offices could sell you tickets from your home station, and that you had to buy tickets at the first opportunity. By queuing in what the OP felt was the queue for tickets, how could this be wrong?
     
  28. farleigh

    farleigh Member

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    Hope it works out for you Tom.

    You'll get good advice from the people on here.
     
  29. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    The "man in the street" would likely assume that a ticket office would have more capability and facility to sort the matter out than a guy/gal standing by the exit checking tickets.

    The problem is that their action is indistinguishable from a chancer who got caught out by the revenue sting.
     
  30. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    "Man in the street" doesn't really come into this - court would consider actual circumstances of particular case to determine if intent is proven or not - and if the actions were indistinguishable from a 'chancer' then that would surely provide reasonable doubt. (It's the job of the RPIs to distinguish objectively - but their starting point must always be that the passenger is honest until they have evidence otherwise.)

    The one situation being suggested here that could possibly lead to a conviction (and note these are not facts - merely speculation) is that only after making a decision to avoid using the ticket office are the staff (and queues) spotted. (Another situation is if something spoken or in interview was incriminating.) And then, there may be complications if the company made an agreement with the passengers to accept payment on a specific later part of the journey but then failed to uphold its side of that agreement while not specifying any fallback provisions.
     
    Last edited: 12 Jul 2019 at 00:46
  31. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That each case is determined on its own merit is taken as read.

    The idea I was trying to convey is that the action of presenting at the ticket line and asking for a ticket specifically does not, in itself, introduce reasonable doubt since that's exactly what someone intent on dodging their fare would do on discovering a revenue check at what they expected to be an open and unguarded exit.
    Indeed that is the case, but it would be more accurate to say that the role of the RPI is to sort passengers between those who raise no suspicion (by whit of presenting an appropriate ticket) and those who do. The latter category can either be offered the opportunity to regularise the situation by way of a Penalty Fare (if appropriate) or their details can be recorded for further investigation.

    The point being that RPIs don't determine guilt, that's for the prosecution team and ultimately the Court.
    Or, since it's not possible to determine what was in the passenger's mind at the time, what the relative positions and sight lines were - e.g. was there a reasonable walking route by which you would end up at the exit without the ticket office being clearly visible?
     

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