Fare Evasion + ADHD

Concerned111

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Hi all,

A few weeks ago before making a trip from Colchester to Liverpool St, I totally forgot that I had to book the tickets and when I finally remembered to check the price increase had kicked in. In a panic I booked a cheaper ticket that only covered a part of the journey (Stratford to Liverpool St). I have ADHD and it can lead to being seriously disorganised/forgetful, and also to act without thinking which would certainly describe my impulsive actions.

Before the ticket barrier at Liverpool St, I was caught. I explained I had travelled from Colchester Town and I had been reckless. I didn’t mention my ADHD here as I was caught very much offguard. A report was made, my personal details were taken, and it was explained I would receive a letter in 4-6 weeks from Greater Anglia.

Later that same day, I was given the IRCAS Debt Recovery/Prosecutions Department email address, and I wrote to them to launch an appeal. I explained about my ADHD and I was told the case would be suspended while I retrieved medical evidence, which I am in the process of acquiring.

I was wondering what I should be expecting next? From the research I’ve done and based off of a conversation with a lawyer friend, I get the feeling a mental disorder doesn’t just shield you from consequences. Any advice welcome!
 
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Fawkes Cat

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Welcome to the forum.

The usual process is that you have to wait for the railway to get back in touch with you, but you already seem to be ahead of that as you have been in touch by email and have got a response.

In the circumstances, my advice would be
- carry on with your efforts to collect medical evidence. When you have got it, submit it.
- the railway may be waiting to receive this from you, or they may not. But the important thing is to make sure that all the information is together with the railway so they can take everything into consideration. So if the railway write to you before you have sent them the medical evidence, then write back to them promptly explaining about the medical evidence - it would probably be a good idea to also send a copy of your previous correspondence. If the railway write to you after they have got the medical evidence, you'll still want to write back to them. I think you recognise that you were in the wrong, so you need to admit that - but explain again about how your condition impacts on your life, and what reasonable steps you will take to avoid the problem happening again*.
- as your lawyer friend has suggested, I don't see that a disability is (of itself) a get-out-of-jail-free card. I can imagine that there are some people with (EDIT) disabilities that mean they are (END EDIT) unable to understand the need to pay the right train fare. As I have never met you, I am not going to speculate whether your ADHD puts you into that category. So you need to bear in mind that whatever position the railway come to will be individual for you - and you will need to make your own assessment whether in all the circumstances it is fair, or one that you will have to argue further with them.

* A note about disability discrimination: this might look like making the person with the disability having to adjust to the non-disabled world rather than the other way round. But it's my usual advice to anyone seeking an out of court settlement - not just to apologise but to explain what steps they will take in future to avoid the risk of offending again. I don't see any reason not to include the same advice regardless of whether someone has a disability or not.

(Edited to try and make rather more sense)
 
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Haywain

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Later that same day, I was given the IRCAS Debt Recovery/Prosecutions Department email address, and I wrote to them to launch an appeal. I explained about my ADHD and I was told the case would be suspended while I retrieved medical evidence, which I am in the process of acquiring.
As you have not been issued a penalty fare, there is nothing to appeal against. There is little you can do until you receive a letter from Greater Anglia who, as far as I am aware, handle prosecutions 'in house'.
 

AlterEgo

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I am not sure what the medical evidence here will show - that you are predisposed to be dishonest? Be very careful what you are doing here. ADHD does not make a person dishonest, and I’m afraid you plainly committed an offence by short faring, perhaps the most common and entry-level of all fare evasion ruses.

You can likely expect to receive correspondence from the prosecuting authority in due course. They may well settle for a sum of around £100 plus the fare due, after auditing your online purchase accounts to see how often you may or may not have done this.
 

43066

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I am not sure what the medical evidence here will show - that you are predisposed to be dishonest? Be very careful what you are doing here. ADHD does not make a person dishonest, and I’m afraid you plainly committed an offence by short faring, perhaps the most common and entry-level of all fare evasion ruses.

Absolutely.

This kind of thing might be a mitigating factor taken into account by a court when sentencing for a criminal offence, but it certainly isn’t going to provide a defence to a blatant case of dishonest fare evasion.
 

gray1404

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You can offer your ADHD as a reason in mitigation while maybe you forgot to get a ticket or something like that. It may make a difference in the train company may take it into account in offering lower settlements such as just being allowed to pay the fare, a lower contribution to their costs or indeed not taking you to court at all. What time setting is there is nothing wrong in you offering it in mitigation however it doesn't mean that they're not going to want to deal with the matter in some way.

I think all you can do at the moment is wait and see what happens in terms of what you hear back from the train company. In the meantime gather your evidence of your diagnosis so you can at least offer it and mitigation.
 

Haywain

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In a panic I booked a cheaper ticket that only covered a part of the journey (Stratford to Liverpool St). I have ADHD and it can lead to being seriously disorganised/forgetful, and also to act without thinking which would certainly describe my impulsive actions.
How far ahead of travelling did you buy this ticket for a shorter journey than the one you were making?
 

Concerned111

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Thank you for your replies.

So if the railway write to you before you have sent them the medical evidence, then write back to them promptly explaining about the medical evidence - it would probably be a good idea to also send a copy of your previous correspondence. If the railway write to you after they have got the medical evidence, you'll still want to write back to them. I think you recognise that you were in the wrong, so you need to admit that - but explain again about how your condition impacts on your life, and what reasonable steps you will take to avoid the problem happening again*.
- as your lawyer friend has suggested, I don't see that a disability is (of itself) a get-out-of-jail-free card. I can imagine that there are some people with (EDIT) disabilities that mean they are (END EDIT) unable to understand the need to pay the right train fare. As I have never met you, I am not going to speculate whether your ADHD puts you into that category. So you need to bear in mind that whatever position the railway come to will be individual for you - and you will need to make your own assessment whether in all the circumstances it is fair, or one that you will have to argue further with them.

* A note about disability discrimination: this might look like making the person with the disability having to adjust to the non-disabled world rather than the other way round. But it's my usual advice to anyone seeking an out of court settlement - not just to apologise but to explain what steps they will take in future to avoid the risk of offending again. I don't see any reason not to include the same advice regardless of whether someone has a disability or not.

(Edited to try and make rather more sense)

Is that to say that I should be prepared to write a letter back as soon as I receive one, as opposed to contacting them via email?

Absolutely understand what you're saying with regards to disabilities. My focus is on doing what I can to manage my condition, rather than expecting the outside world having to go out of its way to accommodate me as this would be misplaced and naive. In future I will be implementing reminders so that I do not forget again, and I have actually just booked in my first therapy session to help me manage this in future (honestly been a long time coming).

I am not sure what the medical evidence here will show - that you are predisposed to be dishonest? Be very careful what you are doing here. ADHD does not make a person dishonest, and I’m afraid you plainly committed an offence by short faring, perhaps the most common and entry-level of all fare evasion ruses.

I understand what you're saying here. I don't think it is an excuse for dishonesty, but it can lead to irrational decision making. And here the impulsive response is very much tied to my own shame towards my condition. I'm just trying my best to demonstrate to the company that it's not in my nature to do this maliciously.

You can offer your ADHD as a reason in mitigation while maybe you forgot to get a ticket or something like that. It may make a difference in the train company may take it into account in offering lower settlements such as just being allowed to pay the fare, a lower contribution to their costs or indeed not taking you to court at all. What time setting is there is nothing wrong in you offering it in mitigation however it doesn't mean that they're not going to want to deal with the matter in some way.

I totally accept that they will still want to deal with it in some manner, and I'm prepared to go through with that them. I guess at this stage I just want to do my best to make them understand my situation and how it speaks to an active problem that I need to manage.

How far ahead of travelling did you buy this ticket for a shorter journey than the one you were making?

I think it was a couple of days beforehand. I appreciate that this doesn't sound favourable. All I can say is that the price increase is what sent me into a panic and to not think the situation through clearly.
 
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AlterEgo

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I understand what you're saying here. I don't think it is an excuse for dishonesty, but it can lead to irrational decision making. And here the impulsive response is very much tied to my own shame towards my condition. I'm just trying my best to demonstrate to the company that it's not in my nature to do this maliciously.
But you are arguing it is in your nature. It is counterproductive. You cannot get rid of your ADHD - and I am sympathetic about that - yet you want to advance it as an excuse for premeditated dishonesty and wilful fare evasion. "I have ADHD, I make irrational decisions, I may do this again" - no, really don't advance this, for your own best interests. It does not in any way detract from your responsibility to pay your fare and to act in a scrupulous manner.
I think it was a couple of days beforehand. I appreciate that this doesn't sound favourable. All I can say is that the price increase is what sent me into a panic and to not think the situation through clearly.
This is a ridiculous attempt at mitigation. I advise you not to mention it.

The facts are simply that:

- you did not want to pay your fare,
- and decided not just to avoid paying,
- but also took steps several days ahead of the journey to ensure you had at least some sort of ticket to activate the barriers at Liverpool Street and hopefully avoid detection, thereby completing the ruse.

There is no difference between you and anyone else who commits the same offence. You had better hope there is no evidence of you doing this before in your purchase history online because most people who short-fare don't do it only once.
 

Concerned111

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But you are arguing it is in your nature. It is counterproductive. You cannot get rid of your ADHD - and I am sympathetic about that - yet you want to advance it as an excuse for premeditated dishonesty and wilful fare evasion. "I have ADHD, I make irrational decisions, I may do this again" - no, really don't advance this, for your own best interests. It does not in any way detract from your responsibility to pay your fare and to act in a scrupulous manner.

This is a ridiculous attempt at mitigation. I advise you not to mention it.

The facts are simply that:

- you did not want to pay your fare,
- and decided not just to avoid paying,
- but also took steps several days ahead of the journey to ensure you had at least some sort of ticket to activate the barriers at Liverpool Street and hopefully avoid detection, thereby completing the ruse.

There is no difference between you and anyone else who commits the same offence. You had better hope there is no evidence of you doing this before in your purchase history online because most people who short-fare don't do it only once.

I think I'm convinced now to just wait to see what the letter says and make a decision from there. If I am unhappy with the decisions made, then I suppose the mitigation option is still there for me to pursue. Unless an attempt at ADHD mitigation would only hurt my case, in which case perhaps it is worth swerving off entirely.
 

robbeech

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I think I'm convinced now to just wait to see what the letter says and make a decision from there. If I am unhappy with the decisions made, then I suppose the mitigation option is still there for me to pursue. Unless an attempt at ADHD mitigation would only hurt my case, in which case perhaps it is worth swerving off entirely.
Whether ADHD mitigation would hurt or help your case is for the people handling it to decide. What i will say is that they will have heard it all before and whilst this arguably should not have any bearing on their decisions, it could do in the real world. Unfortunately for you, there will be dozens of people trying to use the same excuse, and if such an excuse was to be successful the number of people using it and the frequency of them doing so would only go up.
 

Haywain

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I think it was a couple of days beforehand. I appreciate that this doesn't sound favourable. All I can say is that the price increase is what sent me into a panic and to not think the situation through clearly
I’m glad that you appreciate why I asked and the implications. I’m also pleased to read that you are taking steps to avoid this sort of thing happening again.
 

Fawkes Cat

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Is that to say that I should be prepared to write a letter back as soon as I receive one, as opposed to contacting them via email?
There's two points here;

- waiting to hear from the railway before contacting them again; yes, that's exactly what I mean. You don't yet know if the railway will be in touch (sometimes they look at a case and decide not to pursue it) and if they do want to take it further, until they write to you, you don't know what exactly you need to talk to them about. I know it's difficult to do, but for the moment the only thing to do is to wait for the railway to contact you.


- letters versus email; my choice of words may have suggested a letter by snail mail over an email. That's not what I meant to say! I think that these days an email will work just as well as a paper letter - but just because you can dash off an email and hit 'send', don't think that you should! Take as much care with what you say and how you say it as if you were sending your message on paper.
 
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WesternLancer

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I think I'm convinced now to just wait to see what the letter says and make a decision from there. If I am unhappy with the decisions made, then I suppose the mitigation option is still there for me to pursue. Unless an attempt at ADHD mitigation would only hurt my case, in which case perhaps it is worth swerving off entirely.
Yes, wait for their letter - then ASAP compose your reply - feel free to post your draft reply here for comment if you think that would be helpful - but the overall message about what to say in your reply would be:

Make it brief
make it clear you are sorry, and have learned your lesson
Make it clear you will not do it again and you have taken steps to prevent that happening (eg bought railcard / season ticket / car etc if any of those applicable to your travel needs)
 

AlterEgo

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I think I'm convinced now to just wait to see what the letter says and make a decision from there. If I am unhappy with the decisions made, then I suppose the mitigation option is still there for me to pursue. Unless an attempt at ADHD mitigation would only hurt my case, in which case perhaps it is worth swerving off entirely.
I would wait for the letter, yes. You won't really have a choice to be happy with the decision made or not, the offence is complete with evidence of premeditation and deliberate fare evasion. Your best hope is they try to pursue you under the bylaws (a simple, non recordable, strict liability offence) for the plain offence of not having a ticket, but there is enough evidence of you attempting to evade the fare and they may decide to pursue you under the Regulation of Railways Act, which is recordable for one year and is a crime which shows you as dishonest rather than just "didn't have a ticket".

Often we see train companies plump for a bylaw prosecution because it is easier and simpler for them and still secures the compensation they're due and their "day in court" which they can then use for PR purposes as a deterrent.

Even so, there is the option to attempt to settle out of court, avoiding both those scenarios, but any way you must wait for the letter first. When it arrives, post it (with your personal details removed!) and we can help you draft a response.
 

island

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I concur with all of AlterEgo's analysis above. A court will look upon this as premeditated fare evasion, and I am afraid suggestions that this was due to a medical condition will cut little ice.

Abellio Greater Anglia are very familiar with people having a short-distance ticket to get through ticket barriers, and revenue protection staff regularly watch for passengers using tickets from Stratford on trains that didn't pick up passengers there, which is roughly half of the services from Colchester.

When communicating with them, I would urge you to avoid self-contradictory statements such as
my impulsive actions

I think it was a couple of days beforehand
 

Concerned111

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Thank you for the messages everyone. It really does mean a lot.

I will await the arrival of their letter and let you know what situation I’m looking at.

I really just want to find the cleanest way of dealing with this and I will be all too grateful to take all guidance for trying to bring that about. The past month of waiting has been one of the harshest little chapters of my life but suffice to say I am taking several lifelong lessons away from this.
 

gray1404

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I would say the best way to deal with this is to wait for the letter to arrive. Then apply apologising for buying a ticket for a shorter journey than one you made, assure them that it is the first and only time you have done this (assuming this is true and they will not have evidence suggesting otherwise), assure them that you understand the importance of having the correct tickets and paying the correct fur and that you will ensure future journeys will be paid for correctly. You should then offer to pay the outstanding fare plus the costs they have incurred in dealing with the matter. This is the standard advice we would give to most people. You could then mention that you have a disability namely ADHD and if they could consider this in mitigation and it may be enclosed some medical evidence. That way you are not using your condition as an excuse but merely offering it in mitigation.

The letter can take as quick as a few days or as long as 6 months to arrive. It is therefore important that you check your post continuously during this period and do not forget. Once you do receive a letter from them you will only have a short period of time in which to reply. Likewise if they write back to you offering a settlement it will need to be paid promptly and in full. Therefore I would advise you to get saving. Typical amounts would be the cost of the rail fare plus 100 to £200.

Please try not to worry about this. I know you have made a mistake but we have seen lots of people do similar and navigate their way out of it. You are not going to go to prison for this and it is not the end of the world. There is every chance it will be possible to reach an out-of-court settlement on the balance of probabilities
 

Chew-chew

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I think it was a couple of days beforehand. I appreciate that this doesn't sound favourable. All I can say is that the price increase is what sent me into a panic and to not think the situation through clearly.
Even if your condition encouraged impulsive behaviour, you had a couple of days to rectify the situation before travelling, and didn’t. Also, if you couldn’t afford the fare, you had the option not to travel. I’d also suggest that, faced with an expensive fare, defaulting to short faring isn’t something most people would do, and could suggest previous knowledge of how to fare evade and that this might not be a one off. I agree with others that your attempts to mitigate the situation actually make it worse.
 

Concerned111

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Even if your condition encouraged impulsive behaviour, you had a couple of days to rectify the situation before travelling, and didn’t. Also, if you couldn’t afford the fare, you had the option not to travel. I’d also suggest that, faced with an expensive fare, defaulting to short faring isn’t something most people would do, and could suggest previous knowledge of how to fare evade and that this might not be a one off. I agree with others that your attempts to mitigate the situation actually make it worse.
Yeah, I will be very delicate with how I mention my condition in the future, if I even mention it at all. I will really have to consider the context in which I am talking about it.

Please try not to worry about this. I know you have made a mistake but we have seen lots of people do similar and navigate their way out of it. You are not going to go to prison for this and it is not the end of the world. There is every chance it will be possible to reach an out-of-court settlement on the balance of probabilities
Thank you. Reading some of the stories on this forum have certainly helped settle my anxiety and see my situation more rationally. The humiliation will linger in any case but, ya know, at least it’s my humiliation to take ownership of.
 

Concerned111

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Hi there,

After having been away from home for a couple of days, I have gotten home to this letter.

Just to clarify, is this an out of court settlement that they are referring to?

Thank You
 

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skyhigh

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Hi there,

After having been away from home for a couple of days, I have gotten home to this letter.

Just to clarify, is this an out of court settlement that they are referring to?

Thank You
Would you be able to upload a redacted copy of the letter you've received?
 

skyhigh

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Yes the £112.60 is an out of court settlement and would close the matter.
 

WesternLancer

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Hi there,

After having been away from home for a couple of days, I have gotten home to this letter.

Just to clarify, is this an out of court settlement that they are referring to?

Thank You
I would say best pay this ASAP - and retain proof of payment / receipt safely so you have a record of your payment.
 

WesternLancer

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Ok. I was going to phone the line and make the payment there - how can I retain proof of payment?
Not sure really, sorry - I assume if you pay on the phone line there may be an offer of a receipt - if at all possible take that offer for example. Otherwise I assume the payment will be listed on your bank statement - be sure to keep that statement or screen grab of on line statement etc into the future for some time ahead.
 

Concerned111

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Not sure really, sorry - I assume if you pay on the phone line there may be an offer of a receipt - if at all possible take that offer for example. Otherwise I assume the payment will be listed on your bank statement - be sure to keep that statement or screen grab of on line statement etc into the future for some time ahead.
Thank you - I have called the line and received a receipt text message too.
 

Starmill

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I'm surprised that Greater Anglia only offer payment by cheque or premium rate telephone line rather than the more obvious route. I guess it's because they know people will probably pay for the premium rate call.
 

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