Caught without means to pay for a ticket

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by truthbetold, 31 Aug 2012.

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  1. truthbetold

    truthbetold New Member

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    I was caught recently in England without a ticket and stopped at the barrier by a guard who took down my details.

    I later received the following letter:

    "On <date> at <station> a person giving the above name and address was questioned by a member of staff about the payment of a rail fare.

    All the available evidence is being considered as to whether legal proceedings are appropriate. If you consider that there are further mitigating factors that may influence any decision that may be made about this matter you are invited to respond, within 14 days of the date of this letter using the enclosed FREEPOST envelope. If you wish to make any comments about the incident please do so on the reverse of this letter. Please ensure ALL details below are completed and returned to ensure our records are correct."

    I was in a desperate situation to board without a ticket in the first place. I had hoped I could arrange to pay for the ticket at a later date but there was no inspector on the train itself.

    This is my first ever offence. I am really concerned about this going on record. Will I have a criminal record if they prosecute?

    What's my best course of action here? Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. michael769

    michael769 Established Member

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    When you say caught at the barrier do you mean going in before you got a train or coming out after having traveled?
     
  4. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Different Railway companies (TOCs) have different policies re ticket less travel & some companies even have different policies depending on where you have originally boarded the train.

    Experts will be along shortly to comment but it may be helpful to specify which TOC you travelled on and the facilities available at your boarding station with regard to the ability to purchase a ticket prior to travel.

    I understand that you may not want to be too specific but the more details you provide the greater the help given - however in some cases there is not much help to give.
     
  5. island

    island Established Member

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    Was it possible to buy a ticket at your departure station? If so, why didn't you buy one? Also, which train operating company did you use?
     
  6. truthbetold

    truthbetold New Member

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    Was while trying to exit through the barrier after having traveled.

    Yes it was possible to buy a ticket at the station. It was a London Stansted Express service to central London.

    I didn't buy one because I had no money or phone after being robbed abroad and was travelling alone.
     
  7. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    At this stage, the Train Operating Company (Greater Anglia Trains) are collecting evidence to consider whether or not to prosecute. They may chose to prosecute, and these prosecutions may lead to a fine and a criminal record. Equally, though, most train companies are usually willing to settle out of court for a reasonable sum covering administrative costs and the fare which is due.

    What you should tell them now depends partially on what evidence they already have, ie, what you told the ticket inspector at the time. What did you say to the member of staff who questioned you? Did you admit to not purchasing the ticket and did you say that you had no means with which to pay for one?How did you intend to purchase your ticket? Did you tell them about this robbery?

    Also, did you report your robbery when abroad and do you have a crime number or equivalent of this? How did you pay for things between the robbery and returning home?
     
  8. reb0118

    reb0118 Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Sorry to read about your predicament.

    With regard to the robbery abroad as well as reporting this to the police there the OP should have also reported this to the police on arrival at Stansted specifically to state that due to the robbery he had been left without funds. Details would have been taken to verify this and the OP would have been taken to the railway for onward travel. If the story panned out an UFN (Unpaid Fares Notice) would have been issued.

    Alternatively the OP could have contacted a friend/relative to purchase a ticket for him via the SILK (Stranded In Known Location) system. The friend/relative visits their local station, purchases a ticket, pays an admin fee, & the ticket is issued at Stansted. I had to do this myself for my ex partner who forgot her TOCNE card when returning from Stansted without sufficient funds to purchase a public rate fare (she had spent all her pocket money on chocolate yet again).

    The above is of course with hindsight but may help future readers. I suggest the OP submits a clear & concise report of the facts and it would help to enclose a copy of the crime report from the robbery in mitigation. I would not make an offer of payment at this stage as if the TOC are feeling sympathetic they may only request payment of the fare plus a small administration fee - NB the TOC are under no obligation to do this though as regardless of the circumstances it is an offence to enter a train without a ticket or means to purchase one at a staffed station with the intent to travel.

    Good luck in your endeavors.
     
  9. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    I can't argue with any of this - especially if the OP mentioned the robbery during the conversation with the inspector.
     
  10. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I can only mirror what others have said, however, robbery or not, you should really have gained permission before boarding the train for it to really bode well with the TOC. Most stations have Help Points that are staffed 24/7 (just a phoneline basically) and larger stations are staffed most of the time.

    Jumping on the train regardless, and assuming the ticket barriers could have been unstaffed at your destination (they weren't, but could have been!), could also have been seen as opportunistic on your part by the TOC. If you have a crime number etc, give it to the TOC in your correspondence.

    If this does go to court and you're found guilty of an offence under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 - 5(3)a, then you'll gain a PNC recordable conviction and a hefty fine. That's taking in to account it's your first offence.
     
  11. sevenhills

    sevenhills Member

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    Perhaps you had a very expensive journey(if you get fined); but maybe you will be very gratefull that the train got you home?
     
  12. big_dirt

    big_dirt Member

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    If Stansted is not a penalty fare station does that not mean that a passenger can get on board without a ticket.

    It has been some years since I used the service but I was always able to buy a ticket on board.

    Indeed, I once sat and waited for several minutes while the ticket machine whirred and churned, I watched the train pull out. The machine went out of service. I got on the next train which was then cancelled due to a defective radio.

    Finally I got on a departing train with a ticket and then discovered I could have just bought one on the original train.
     
  13. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The OP hasn't been issued with a penalty fare, they are being considered for prosecution. Seeing as the OP was caught after having travelled, at the exit gateline, it strikes me that the GA member of staff was perfectly entitled to report them for prosecution rather than issue a PF.

    As an aside and relating to you second point. When travelling from a station with working/open ticket issuing facilities you can only buy the full single or return fare for you journey (meaning no railcard discounts and normally Anytime fares only).
     
  14. big_dirt

    big_dirt Member

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    If Stansted Airport is not a penalty fare station is the gateline staff allowed to make that decision about a Penalty Fare at all?

    I don't think you'll get much difference in the price for buying on the train or at the station with the Stansted Express.


    As it seems to me, he is entitled to board without a ticket due to the nature of the service. He has an issue which he needs rail staff to assist him with and if the first member of staff he came upon is on the gateline then I think it is unreasonable for him to have been referred for prosecution. It may be to the letter of the law but not the spirit.
     
  15. snail

    snail Established Member

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    Stansted station ticket office is open 6am - midnight according to NRE. If the OP walked past an open ticket office that reduces his defence of there being no staff available to talk to. Anyway, he hasn't been referred for prosecution, he is being considered for prosecution. Quite different. If his circumstances are as stated and he explains it clearly then one would hope the TOC will be lenient.
     
  16. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    They have not been issued a penalty fare they are being considered for prosecution (using either Byelaw 18 or RoRA S.5). Penalty Fares are not used in situations where fare evasion is suspected. Now as has been noted the OP already is likely to have walked past an open ticket office, has not been seen by anyone on board (if there was anyone) and has then been picked up at the exit gateline. Clearly the member of staff felt that they were attempting to evade the fare and have therefore reported the OP for possible prosecution. That being said if the OP's story is accurate I would also hope for lenience.
     
  17. route:oxford

    route:oxford On Moderation

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    Where do you live?
     
  18. island

    island Established Member

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    No, they could not issue a penalty fare, but they could do several other things, including allowing the passenger to leave without paying, issuing an unpaid fares notice, or completing a travel irregularity report.

    None whatsoever if you're wanting a single to Liverpool Street as there are only Anytime fares from Stansted to London Terminals. However, the law requires that you pay before you board irrespective of this.

    But the first member of staff would have been in the booking office at Stansted!
     
  19. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I was under the impression he boarded at a location with an open Ticket Office and more than likely Help Points? Correct me if I've missed something here?

    I don't think it's unreasonable to be reported. I hear all the time of people having been "robbed" (usually stolen from....not robbed) etc, usually with no crime number etc. If he provided the staff with a Crime Number, then maybe a UFN would have been issued? But even then, there's no requirement for one!
     
  20. snail

    snail Established Member

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    I don't want this to sound unsympathetic to the OP but they claim to have arrived at Stansted with no wallet and no phone. But they would have had a ticket to get on the plane and a passport to get through passport control.
     
  21. big_dirt

    big_dirt Member

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    If he were under the impression that the Stansted Express has the facility to buy on board, that a ticket seller walks the length of the train by the time it gets to Liverpool Street and he would plead his case with him then I don't see the issue. He might have had an aversion to speaking to someone about a sensitive issue through security glass and would prefer face to face contact which he thought he would receive on board the train. Then he boards the train, goes to find the ticket seller and he is nowhere to be found.

    Who knows? He hasn't given us enough information. He could have landed himself in it with his words at Liverpool Street.

    What would happen if someone is stolen from while on the railway and therefore can't provide a ticket? They would not have a crime number.

    BTW, people misusing robbery for theft where there has been no violence or threat really annoys me too!
     
  22. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    They would obviously report it asap. If they're pick-pocketed and don't realise until they go to get their ticket out, then they'd more than likely obviously be not trying it on (be very upset etc). Staff can usually tell when this is the case. Remember, the TOC has to prove the case in court, it's not up to the defendant to disprove it.

    Sorry, but the way the OP went about things here seems a little far fetched, and probably did to the RPI too.
     
  23. 47421

    47421 Member

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    some extra details as requested by other posters would be useful, but sounds to me like you should reply with and honest and apologetic letter explaining what happened, acknowledging that you should not have travelled without a means of paying the fare and offering to pay the fare now. You might even want to send a cheque payable to Greater Anglia for £22.50 with your letter. You might also want to offer to pay something (£50 perhaps - what do others think) towards their costs of following up on this.

    As others say prosecuting in these circs would be harsh.

    The problem is that if you acknowledge that you travelled without the means to pay you are effectively admitting an offence and that makes it a simple prosecution, and while on the facts you have laid out it might seem harsh to prosecute they may choose to anyway. Also if there are other facts - say they thought you were abusive or evasive - then they may well want to prosecute anyway and any admission will just make it an easier decision for them to go ahead
     
  24. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Costs are usually about £100, and TOCs do in a lot of cases send cheques back in the first instance as they have not yet accepted a settlement.

    The question was no doubt asked that if the Ticket Barriers were open at Liverpool Street, when would you have paid the fare owed? If he said "I wouldn't have" although not airtight, makes their prosecution all the easier. It also depends what exactly was said and recorded under questioning.

    Despite what anybody says, the fact remains that it's unreasonable to assume you'll be okay, and should have sought advice BEFORE boarding the train. Chances are there was Platform Staff, Ticket Office Staff and a Help Point at Stansted Railway Station.
     
  25. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

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    This would be my course of action - initially state the circumstances and offer to pay the full undiscounted fare, if it goes any further offer a larger amount to make the case go away.

    Be careful not to admit guilt as such in your original response -just state that your intention was to arrange delayed payment as a result of a robbery abroad.
     
  26. sevenhills

    sevenhills Member

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    Not even a robery in this country, so the OP got off the plane and then boarded the train. Surely it would have been better to seek help at the airport?
     
  27. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    big_dirt - The OP travelled without means to pay the fare. The over-complications are not relevant here. If you do not have means to pay then you must seek staff before boarding any train.
     
  28. Monty

    Monty Established Member

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    This is what it boils down to, if the OP has made no attempt before or during his journey to inform staff about his predicament then he has left himself wide open to prosecution, robbery or no robbery. Being challenged right at the end of his journey doesn't help the OP's case either.

    Best thing the OP can hope for is that the TOC may take pity on his ordeal and agree to settle out of court, but it may take a pretty grovelling letter for that. I would'nt hold my breath though.
     
  29. truthbetold

    truthbetold New Member

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    UPDATE 13/09/12

    Got a letter from a prosecutor which starts:

    and another excerpt:

    and


    I hate my life.

    What are my options?

    Is it worth getting a solicitor involved? Is this possible with no money?

    Is it too late to settle out of court now?

    Edit: by the way I don't have a crime reference number. My belongings were stolen at a festival in Portugal that I was making my way back from.
     
    Last edited: 13 Sep 2012
  30. WillPS

    WillPS Established Member

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    I can sympathise, but given that legal papers have now been served I think it's better for somebody a little more experienced to give you some help.

    The very best of luck in any case.
     
  31. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    You may find that a local Law Firm which deals with Criminal matters will represent you, but their advice is surely going to be the same as mine: to admit the Offence at the first opportunity, and then they can plea for 'mitigation' to try to reduce the Fine, based on your actual circumstances.

    You are quite permitted to do this yourself - write to the Court and confirm that you intend to plea Guilty in person and then to make a plea to the Magistrates that you lost your money while on holiday and that you only have whatever income you do receive.

    If you want to approach the Prosecutor and make an offer of an Out of Court Settlement, then you'd better have the means to pay it. It may not be accepted.
    I don't think you have other options.
     
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