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Hadders

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Senior Fares Advisor
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13,360
Welcome to the forum.

We have many threads in this section about similar issues so it might be wise to have a browse through them. Unfortunately you didn't have a valid ticket for your journey and that does mean that the train company has the right to prosecute you. This is extremely harsh for something that can be considered a mistake but unfortunately the law is on their side. That said if you engage properly with the train company I wouldn't expect you to be prosecuted. This is what I expect will happen:
  • The train company, or an investigation company acting on their behalf often Transport Investigations) will write to you saying they have received a report from a revenue protection inspector alleging travelling without a valid ticket. The letter will say that they are considering a prosecution but it will ask for you version of events before making a decision. This letter can take several months to arrive.
  • When the letter arrives it is important that you reply. I suggest writing a short, concise response apologising for what happened and saying what you have learned from the incident.
  • Say that you are keen to settle the matter without resorting to legal action and that you are prepared to pay the outstanding fare plus the train company's administrative costs in dealing with the matter. Don't write a rambling letter full of excuses, they will have heard it all before - keep it brief.
  • You might want to post a draft of your reply in this thread (with personal details redacted) and we can check it over before you send it.
Most train companies will offer to settle out of court in you haven't come to their attention before. This typically costs around £100 plus the outstanding fare (although exact amounts do vary considerably). While this might feel like a fine it isn't - only a court can impose a fine.

There isn't much more you can do at the moment so please try not to worry. Do post back when you receive the letter from the train company.
 

jp4712

Member
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476
What kind of rail card was it? If you've had one for 19 years I'm guessing it's not a young person's card.
 

Kilopylae

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Obvious disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer and nor will be most of those who comment here. Note that there are places where you can get free legal advice, such as your union (or Student Union if you're at uni) or Citizens' Advice.

There are two different offences for travelling without a valid ticket, one of which is a criminal offence, the other a by-law offence. Because you have shown no intent to avoid paying a fare — i.e. it's clearly an honest mistake — if SWR does choose to proescure then it will most likely be the latter. A conviction for a by-law offence would not normally be recorded by the police and if it's not recorded then it won't appear on a DBS check. As it is an offence that results in a fine, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act it is 'spent' after a year and subsequently won't appear even if it was recorded. Besides, most employers will be sympathetic to a one-off ticketing violation and the by-law offence will not be considered an offence of dishonesty.

If SWR chooses to prosecute, you will be sent a letter informing you about this decision and asking you to give your side of the story. Sometimes the railway company will decide not to proceed based on your response, sometimes they will decide to plough ahead regardless, and sometimes they will make you a 'settlement offer', which will be the cost of the fare evaded plus an arbitrary admin fee (usually in the order of £50.00 to £100.00 pounds). If you pay the settlement offer, the whole thing goes away with no criminal conviction.

If SWR chooses to prosecute and there is no settlement, you will be taken to magistrates' court. There is still sometimes the possibility of offering and agreeing a settlement on the day. Unfortunately, if this does go as far as court, you will likely be found guilty as the by-law offence is 'strict liability' (i.e. intentions don't matter, if you did it you did it).

We can help you out with writing the letter if SWR gives you the chance to tell your side of the story to get the best chance of a settlement. If you have any questions feel free to ask here and if you are contacted the railway please upload images of that with any of your identifying details blacked out so know how to assist.
 

30907

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My job is reliant on integrity and any criminal conviction which implies this could be damaging if not ending. This isn't a case of intentionally not wishing to pay the fare it is a genuine and honest mistake.
Could I suggest you also read some of the threads on here which discuss the issue of convictions and DBS checks - I hope that will reassure you.
The more serious conviction as mentioned by Kylopylae would show on a DBS check, but even that - as an isolated conviction - is unlikely to threaten your career, though concealing it might :(
 

JackWheeler79

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Location
Weston Super Mare
Thanks for the reply and I will do this.

If this is a first offence and a genuine mistake (I had tickets, although I appreciate not valid etc) what would be their reason to pursue a conviction as opposed to an out of court settlement?

I am very worried about all of this.

I have never been in trouble before.
 

30907

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If this is a first offence and a genuine mistake (I had tickets, although I appreciate not valid etc) what would be their reason to pursue a conviction as opposed to an out of court settlement?

I am very worried about all of this.

I have no idea whether SWR have a policy of offering an out of court settlement, but even if they don't it's still worth asking.

I am sure you realise that anyone can claim to be entitled to a discounted ticket - but showing that you have held your Railcard for N years might help them accept it was an error.
 

221129

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There are two different offences for travelling without a valid ticket, one of which is a criminal offence, the other a by-law offence. Because you have shown no intent to avoid paying a fare — i.e. it's clearly an honest mistake — if SWR does choose to proescure then it will most likely be the latter.
In this section of the forum I feel it is important to be 100% accurate so I need to raise a couple of points with this.

Both of the offences mentioned above namely S.5 of the Regulation of Railways Act and Bylaw 18 of the National Railway Bylaws are considered criminal offences. The difference that you tried to point out are that one is recordable (s.5 RoRA) and will result in a criminal record upon conviction and the other (Bylaw offence) is not.

Secondly, intent in law is judged on actions and behavior, presenting an out of date railcard especially one that is significantly out of date would likely be used to demonstrate intent in law.

Thanks for the reply and I will do this.

If this is a first offence and a genuine mistake (I had tickets, although I appreciate not valid etc) what would be their reason to pursue a conviction as opposed to an out of court settlement?

I am very worried about all of this.

I have never been in trouble before.
As long as you engage with them, cooperate and take responsibility for your actions it is more likely than not that you will be offered an out of court settlement. If you lie, come across aggressive and try to blame others then that is when you are likely to end up infront of the magistrates.
 
Joined
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330
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I'm in agreement that the best option here is to be up front and honest with them. As far as they'll be able to tell, this is your first "whoopsie" with regards to travelling without a valid ticket. They've got you bang to rights on this, but I believe that if you're truthful about this and explain to them that you hadn't realised that your Railcard had expired, they may be willing to let the matter slide if you agree to a fair settlement offer that covers the lost revenue, plus expenses.

I wish you all the best of luck!
 

Kilopylae

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Messages
746
Location
Oxford and Devon
In this section of the forum I feel it is important to be 100% accurate so I need to raise a couple of points with this.

Both of the offences mentioned above namely S.5 of the Regulation of Railways Act and Bylaw 18 of the National Railway Bylaws are considered criminal offences. The difference that you tried to point out are that one is recordable (s.5 RoRA) and will result in a criminal record upon conviction and the other (Bylaw offence) is not.

Secondly, intent in law is judged on actions and behavior, presenting an out of date railcard especially one that is significantly out of date would likely be used to demonstrate intent in law.
Thanks for clarifying.
 

JackWheeler79

Member
Joined
24 Oct 2020
Messages
6
Location
Weston Super Mare
Thanks for all your posts. It was a genuine mistake and I have no intention of blaming anyone. I only hope that they realise my sincerity in all of this and accept my apologies.
 

Fawkes Cat

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Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
3,039
Just to pick up on the point about employment: if you settle this matter entirely informally (either the railway decide to take no further action, or you agree an out of court settlement) I cannot see any need to mention it to your employer.

If matters start getting at all formal (most obviously if you are convicted in court, but with some professions I think that the point can be as early as being interviewed under caution or if the matter is taken to court) then you may need to tell your employer or regulator (e.g. the GMC, the NMWC, and similar for other professions). This will vary from profession to profession and employer to employer. But you may want to check with a reliable but neutral source (your union or maybe staff association, your employer's intranet or your regulator's website) in advance to find out what line they will take.

If it does turn out that you need to let your employer know, then do so as soon as the rules require you to. As has been pointed out above, one ticketing irregularity does not suggest a pattern of dishonesty - and in the current position with Covid, it's hardly surprising that someone has not checked their Railcard for validity as frequently as they normally would. But if you try to cover up what has happened, then that adds dishonesty with your employer to the matters they will want to consider. That's not where you will want to be!

So don't panic: you've started doing the right thing seeking advice here. Carry on doing the right thing by seeking personalized advice about your employer, and there's a good chance that everything will turn out ok.
 

JackWheeler79

Member
Joined
24 Oct 2020
Messages
6
Location
Weston Super Mare
Cheers Fawkes Cat. Most appreciated. It is a genuine mistske and I don’t want to have lost 20 years of hard work. I hadn’t travelled since Nov 2019 and in the mix of everything going on it was just an oversight.

I do have proof of my last travel but appreciate that this was only a ticket purchase on my bank statement.
 

Kilopylae

Member
Joined
9 Apr 2019
Messages
746
Location
Oxford and Devon
It is also worth pointing out that only breaking section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act counts as an 'offence of dishonesty'; breaking Bylaw 18 does not. Plus, according to Wainwright & Cummins Solicitors, "most employers would look sympathetically at a conviction for one-off fare evasion".

Try not to panic. You have a good chance of settling this out of court and a good chance of being OK even if this ends up in court.
 
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