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Fare Evasion, Possible Prosecution - What to do

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VI1PER

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Hi All,

This morning I was stopped on a train from Slough going one stop to Windsor and Eton Central on a Great Western Railway train.

I had a ticket to Slough only. My intention was to get off at slough and take a bus to Datchet but I instead moved platform and got onto a train to Windsor. I know I made a very stupid mistake and should have exited the station and bought a ticket for the extra stop to Windsor. Sadly I didn't.

I was stopped by a third party inspector who took my details and asked me questions in an aggressive manor while recording. Questions such as was it my intention to travel without a paid fare? I replied yes. He noted all of this down and asked me to sign which I did. I was honest in all my answers and very shaken.

He left saying "you will be contacted and I advise you to liaise with them direct".

I haven't been stopped before and always have a ticket, I have no criminal record though I am very worried I have ruined everything.

I have seen from recent searches most will get a let explaining their version of events. I am worried because I have been truthful it may mean I've got no way of avoiding a criminal record. I accept my error and I am happy to pay the hefty fines but a criminal record would have huge implications with my job and I am worried being so honest may have put me into a corner.

Anyone have any advice on what my next step should be.

Thanks in advance.
 
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cuccir

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So the bad news first: Yes, prosecution is a possibility.

In particular, answering 'yes' to the question "Was it your intention to travel without a paid fare?" provides all the evidence that the TOC would need for a successful prosecution under the Regulations of the Railway Act (RoRA), which carries a criminal record and a fine that would usually be, for a first offender skipping a small fare with no other apparent aggravating circumstances, in the low hundreds.

Then the good news:
Prosecutions take time, effort and money. An out of court settlement would save the TOC time, and they'd get as much as if not more money in total as they'd get everything you pay for little expense, rather than just a cut of any fine + costs.

So there remains an incentive for them to accept an out of court settlement, particularly if a sufficiently apologetic letter is sent back in response to their communication, and if they are satisfied that this was a one off and won't be repeated.

Further good-ish news: even though they could go for a 'RoRA' prosecution, they may still chose to go for a Bylaw prosecution, which would carry no criminal record and a smaller fine. Further-further good-ish news, the effects of a criminal record really can be quite minor, depending on your job (though that's not to deny that they can be quite significant too: it is very variable).
 
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VI1PER

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Thanks for your comments Cuccir.

Is there anything in particular I should write or note in my letter to them to settle for an out of court settlement?

Obviously this is premature as I haven't received the letter yet.

I assume its very unlikely based on the above they will simply send me a fixed penalty notice?
 

najaB

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Is there anything in particular I should write or note in my letter to them to settle for an out of court settlement?
Th main things that the prosecutions team would want to see are:
  • A genuine expression of remorse - show that you understand that what you did was wrong and why it was wrong.
  • A desire to make restitution - indicate that you will pay the fare due and that you want to contribute towards their costs
  • Demonstration that you have learned - promise that you will modify your behaviour so that there is no repeat of your lapse in future
  • Show that you understand why they have a revenue protection policy - that fare evasion costs them money that could be used to provide improved services.
If you include all of the above it will go a long way to ensuring that you don't face a prosecution and can resolve the matter without involving the Courts.
I assume its very unlikely based on the above they will simply send me a fixed penalty notice?
As far as I know, gWr don't operate a fixed penalty scheme such as that run by Northern.
 

VI1PER

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Thanks for your advice.

So you think it's almost certain they will send a prosecution letter to me and not fine me instead?

Thanks again for your responses.
 

furlong

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What was your origin station for the journey to Slough and how much did you pay for that ticket?
 

najaB

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So you think it's almost certain they will send a prosecution letter to me and not fine me instead?
The most likely thing is that they will send a standard letter saying that they are considering a prosecution and asking for your reasons why they shouldn't proceed with it. It almost certainly won't straight to a summons at this point.
 

VI1PER

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The most likely thing is that they will send a standard letter saying that they are considering a prosecution and asking for your reasons why they shouldn't proceed with it. It almost certainly won't straight to a summons at this point.

Ok I understand. Is there anything at this point I should state to avoid it going to court?
 

James Wake

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I started at Manor House tube station and bought a return which cost me £19.90

That's an anytime day return, a bit annoying for the OP as I checked the price to Windsor and the same ticket to Windsor costs just 10p more at £20.
 

VI1PER

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That's an anytime day return, a bit annoying for the OP as I checked the price to Windsor and the same ticket to Windsor costs just 10p more at £20.

Yes I know. I was due to get off at slough where my work is but decided I was early and would grab some gifts from Windsor so got on the train.

I know I still made the wrong decision and I am at fault but possible prosecution and a criminal record just seems so over the top for 10p.
 

furlong

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That's an anytime day return, a bit annoying for the OP as I checked the price to Windsor and the same ticket to Windsor costs just 10p more at £20.

Train companies have been known to prosecute for as little as 10p, however some courts consider they have more important ways to spend their time and make their displeasure known, so I also think it would be surprising if the company didn't prefer a resolution that didn't involve presenting its case to a court.
 

timbo58

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It's not the amount and I'd doubt a magistrate would even take that into account.
I've certainly seem a smart alec in court for 55p before and nothing was even noted about the amount of the fare avoided, only that it was proved to have been avoided.

The question the inspector asked was a standard question and knowing them all some may seem 'aggressive' since they are very direct yes/no questions for the most part.
 

cuccir

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Magistrates are of course not a singular bunch, and what bothers some will not bother others.

Still, that it's such a small amount may be a push factor for the TOC towards offering an out of court settlement if asked for one, rather than pushing to prosecution.
 

BestWestern

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That's an anytime day return, a bit annoying for the OP as I checked the price to Windsor and the same ticket to Windsor costs just 10p more at £20.

Well not so much 'annoying'; it was deliberate after all! Certainly it makes the whole situation even more unfortunate. Hopefully it'll help to resolve things outside of the Court room.
 

Haywain

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The difference between the fares from the starting point might be only 10p, but it would be reasonable to argue that the fare that wasn't paid was that from Slough to Windsor, which is £2.60.
 

Antman

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The difference between the fares from the starting point might be only 10p, but it would be reasonable to argue that the fare that wasn't paid was that from Slough to Windsor, which is £2.60.

Well it would suggest that the OP wasn't seeking to make any significant financial saving, only he can explain why he didn't buy the appropriate ticket in the first place.

Again it rather highlights the need for an ombudsman, I mean isn't it a bit like going into a supermarket and forgetting to pay 5p for a carrier bag?
 
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VI1PER

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Well it would suggest that the OP wasn't seeking to make any significant financial saving, only he can explain why he didn't buy the appropriate ticket in the first place.

Again it rather highlights the need for an ombudsman, I mean isn't it a bit like going into a supermarket and forgetting to pay 5p for a carrier bag?

I work in Slough so never intended to go to Windsor but instead exit at Slough.

I decided to then go to Windsor to buy some gifts and got on the train waiting at the platform rather than buy a ticket and wait for the next one.

I know its my fault and a bad call. I understand a fine and would pay it without challenging but prosecution and a criminal record seems very harsh.
 

najaB

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...but prosecution and a criminal record seems very harsh.
Realistically, it is unlikely that they will take it through to a prosecution if you engage with them as most TOCs don't *want* to prosecute if the passenger has a cooperative attitude, and the transgression is minor.
 

Skimpot flyer

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I work in Slough so never intended to go to Windsor but instead exit at Slough.

I decided to then go to Windsor to buy some gifts and got on the train waiting at the platform rather than buy a ticket and wait for the next one..
And how were you planning to get back to Slough, without the return portion of the return that you hadn't purchased ?
 

bioboy

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VI1PER I am in a similar situation to you, could you please tell me the outcome of your predicament?
 

VI1PER

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BioBoy, I haven't heard anything from them yet so I am just waiting until I receive the letter.
 

crehld

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VI1PER I am in a similar situation to you, could you please tell me the outcome of your predicament?

I would suggest starting a new thread with full details so we can collectively offer suitable advice.
 
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