First Capital Connect Notice of intention to prosecute

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itsy

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Hi there

There seems to be a lot of this about at the moment it seems and here's another.

My husband has received a notice of intention to prosecute. It states 'this letter is to inform you of our intention to take this case to the Magistrates Court and the enclosed form provides you with the opportunity to tell us what happened from your point of view'

The details of the offence states 'entering a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling travel'.

My husband was travelling from London Bridge to St Albans with a valid carnet ticket. The barriers were open at London Bridge and he forgot to write the date on the ticket. He met a friend on the train and made it to the barrier and the ticket wouldn't go through and then he realised that he had forgotten the date so he entered it. As he was doing so a revenue protection officer stopped him and cautioned him, and took the ticket from him, giving him a slip of paper.

Can anyone provide advice as to what to write in the Response from Passenger section?
 
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RJ

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Hi there

There seems to be a lot of this about at the moment it seems and here's another.

My husband has received a notice of intention to prosecute. It states 'this letter is to inform you of our intention to take this case to the Magistrates Court and the enclosed form provides you with the opportunity to tell us what happened from your point of view'

The details of the offence states 'entering a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling travel'.

My husband was travelling from London Bridge to St Albans with a valid carnet ticket. The barriers were open at London Bridge and he forgot to write the date on the ticket. He met a friend on the train and made it to the barrier and the ticket wouldn't go through and then he realised that he had forgotten the date so he entered it. As he was doing so a revenue protection officer stopped him and cautioned him, and took the ticket from him, giving him a slip of paper.

Can anyone provide advice as to what to write in the Response from Passenger section?

Bear in mind that FCC in particular appear to have a zero tolerance policy against people who don't ensure that carnets are dated prior to travel. They are trying to instill into people's mind that rail travel is a service that should be paid for - not something that's free except for when the inspectors appear. Genuine oversights which result in the fare going unpaid also fall into that net.

Your husband may wish to consider apologising profusely for his failure to date the carnet at the right time and implore FCC for an out of court settlement of around £200.
 

itsy

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Bear in mind that FCC in particular appear to have a zero tolerance policy against people who aren't too concerned with ensuring a valid ticket is held prior to travel. They are trying to instill into people's mind that rail travel is a service that should be paid for - not something that's free except for when the inspectors appear.

Your husband may wish to consider apologising profusely for his genuine oversight in dating the carnet and implore FCC for an out of court settlement of around £200.

Thanks for the quick response RJ. Should that apology and request for out of court settlement be made in the 'response from passenger' or should we try and contact them separately by phone after submitting the form? I totally understand that FCC provides a service that should be paid for, but in this case as you said it was a genuine oversight. Let's hope they agree.
 

trc666

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I can only agree with the above - go for an out of court settlement if you can. We quite often get people turning up at our station forgetting to fill out the dates on Gold Card weekend tickets. We also get a lot of BR safeguarded dependants and spouses / partners not filling boxes in, some of it accidental but others are trying it on. A lot of TOCs and in particular First Capital Connect take a zero tolerance stance when it comes to these types of tickets.
 
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Monty

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Unfortunately without any futher infomation there is not alot we can do, there is not much to go on but from what I've read your best bet is to try and get an out of court settlement.

My husband was travelling from London Bridge to St Albans with a valid carnet ticket.

Because your Husband had forgotten to endorse ticket with the date of travel isn't actually valid even if you think that it is. However if it was a simple error as you have explained i'm confused somewhat to why FCC wish to prosecute as in my opinion an penalty fare would have been more applicable in this situation. However I was not there and therefore not privy to the converstion between the Inspector and your Husband.

If you can provide more details on the event in question I may be able to offer further advice, however at the moment all I can say is explain to them truthfully the journey your Husband made that day and explain it was not his intention to avoid paying his fare and he would be willing to pay the fare plus any admin costs. If you are offered an out of court settlement I would seriously advise you to accept it.
 

itsy

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Unfortunately without any futher infomation there is not alot we can do, there is not much to go on but from what I've read your best bet is to try and get an out of court settlement.



Because your Husband had forgotten to endorse ticket with the date of travel isn't actually valid even if you think that it is. However if it was a simple error as you have explained i'm confused somewhat to why FCC wish to prosecute as in my opinion an penalty fare would have been more applicable in this situation. However I was not there and therefore not privy to the converstion between the Inspector and your Husband.

If you can provide more details on the event in question I may be able to offer further advice, however at the moment all I can say is explain to them truthfully the journey your Husband made that day and explain it was not his intention to avoid paying his fare and he would be willing to pay the fare plus any admin costs. If you are offered an out of court settlement I would seriously advise you to accept it.

Thanks for the help - I'm not sure there are many other details in this case though! The conversation between my husband and the RPI was an amicable one and he was incredibly apologetic. The RPI asked if it was his intention to travel without a valid ticket and he said no, it was a genuine oversight. We too don't understand why a penalty fare wasn't given instead but from what I can see on this and other forums, FCC seem to have been clamping down a lot recently
 

Ferret

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Thanks for the help - I'm not sure there are many other details in this case though! The conversation between my husband and the RPI was an amicable one and he was incredibly apologetic. The RPI asked if it was his intention to travel without a valid ticket and he said no, it was a genuine oversight. We too don't understand why a penalty fare wasn't given instead but from what I can see on this and other forums, FCC seem to have been clamping down a lot recently

Unfortunately those carnet tickets are just wide open to fraud and abuse, and anyone caught without a valid one (ie filled in) can expect a summons, whether it's an accidental error or not.

I *think* they are looking to prosecute under byelaw 18 rather than the more serious section 5 offence which covers intent to avoid the fare. So, even it goes to Court, it looks as though the inevitable guilty verdict will not lead to a criminal record. Furthermore, if it's a first offence, I suspect FCC will be willing to settle out of Court on this one.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I agree with Ferret.
Its not just that FCC might have been 'clamping down . . recently' but as he rightly observes, the whole concept of a DIY declaration of incurring a debt by a passenger, but which any passenger can equally avoid unless challenged, is a poor model for any business's monitoring of their service provision against revenue.

Snce FCC introduced such a scheme as carnets (which, if properly implemented can be an enormous benefit to all parties), its disapointing to see that they've been so poorly implemented that it becomes absolutely impossible to differentiate the opportunist fare-dodger from the honset-but-absent-minded passenger.

In my opinon, if those two cannot be differentiated, then the concept of the carnet hasn't fulfilled its potential.
 

Ferret

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.... its disapointing to see that they've been so poorly implemented that it becomes absolutely impossible to differentiate the opportunist fare-dodger from the honset-but-absent-minded passenger.

In my opinon, if those two cannot be differentiated, then the concept of the carnet hasn't fulfilled its potential.

The problem is it's easy for anybody to attempt the old 'oops, I forgot to fill it in' blag on any RPI. I read the OP's description of events and immediately had my ticket checkers hat on, and thought 'I bet that RPI hadn't a clue if the bloke was trying it on or not'. Almost impossible to tell, so as a result there is no option but to go for the enforcement means of dealing with everybody who is caught. It may well sound harsh to some out there, but alas everybody ends up paying for those who misuse and abuse the system.
 

yorkie

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Unfortunately those carnet tickets are just wide open to fraud and abuse, and anyone caught without a valid one (ie filled in) can expect a summons, whether it's an accidental error or not.

I *think* they are looking to prosecute under byelaw 18 rather than the more serious section 5 offence which covers intent to avoid the fare. So, even it goes to Court, it looks as though the inevitable guilty verdict will not lead to a criminal record. Furthermore, if it's a first offence, I suspect FCC will be willing to settle out of Court on this one.
Indeed. But the strange thing is that the TOCs are not supposed to be using Byelaw 18. I've always maintained that TOCs should either prosecute using the Regulation of Railways Act or not at all. Sadly, the legislation allows them to do this, and there's no-one effectively regulating, so they can do anything they want as far as I can see.

It's my understanding that memos have gone out to TOCs about this, but FCC just ignore them. After all, who is going to stop FCC doing this?

They will probably settle out of court (assuming there's nothing more to this), but for a sum considerably greater than a Penalty Fare.
 

Ferret

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Indeed. But the strange thing is that the TOCs are not supposed to be using Byelaw 18. I've always maintained that TOCs should either prosecute using the Regulation of Railways Act or not at all. Sadly, the legislation allows them to do this, and there's no-one effectively regulating, so they can do anything they want as far as I can see.

It's my understanding that memos have gone out to TOCs about this, but FCC just ignore them. After all, who is going to stop FCC doing this?

Have you a source for this? It does sound a little far fetched... While the law exists, both BTP and TOCs are perfectly at liberty to prosecute under it!

 

radamfi

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Train travel is not recommended for the forgetful, and certainly not carnets. It isn't worth the risk of a life ending criminal record. Driving offences, by contrast, are punished far less harshly. You are unlikely to injure someone by fare dodging, but speeding (i.e. putting other people's lives at risk) is only punished with a modest fine and penalty points, and maybe a driving ban. You are even allowed to kill someone in your car and still get away without a criminal record if it is considered an 'accident'.
 

Brucey

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Wouldn't it be simpler for everyone if the ticket holder was issued with an on the spot penalty, ie : The RPI could have cancelled one of the boxes, meaning the ticket holder effectively paid twice for the trip, the ticket holder would have learnt his lesson, and there wouldn't be a whole lot of faffing around.

Talk about taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut. :roll:

Cheers
DJ737
Melbourne, Australia

But there is nothing in the passenger's contract with the TOC that allows a box to be cancelled.
 

yorkie

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Have you a source for this? It does sound a little far fetched... While the law exists, both BTP and TOCs are perfectly at liberty to prosecute under it!
From http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publication...res-policy.pdf

This is relevant:-
2 Background
Origins
2.1 A penalty fares system was first developed in the late 1980s by the Network SouthEast sector
of British Rail (BR), as a way to protect revenue in its particular circumstances. As well as
reducing the expense of inspecting tickets at ticket barriers, BR also wanted to reduce the
number of cases that were referred to the courts. Before penalty fares were introduced, the
only way to deter people from travelling without a ticket was to prosecute them under the
Regulation of Railways Act 1889.
This was time-consuming, costly and often ineffective. For
a prosecution to be successful, it had to be proved that the passenger intended to avoid paying.
This was often difficult as most passengers without tickets were willing to pay if they were
challenged, but did not pay if they were not challenged.
So, either:-


  • This statement is incorrect and Parliament were misled by the rail industry; OR
  • Some TOCs are acting in a way that is not consistent with the powers that Parliament believes they should act.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Its quite true that the above extract is incomplete in its analysis (it could have added the Fraud Act, Railway Consolidation Acts and Theft Act as well as the Railway Byelaws), however, as a context for introducing the Penalty Fares scheme, its arguably a little misleading.

But that falls far short of "the TOCs are not supposed to be using Byelaw 18".
The Railway Byelaws exist so that they can be used, whether as a deterrent or a penalty. It is a matter for individual TOCs to decide whether or not they wish to enforce Byelaw 18, and I will agree that the simultaneous application of Penalty Fares and Byelaw 18 in the same place at the same time has the potential for confusion. Where Byelaws come into conflict with other legislation, they should not be used to authorise an Offence under that other legislation and nor should they make an Offence where something is specifically authorised by other legislation.
 

yorkie

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So the conclusion is that the rail industry misled Parliament in order to get Penalty Fare legislation passed then? Hmm, interesting!
 

Username

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So the conclusion is that the rail industry misled Parliament in order to get Penalty Fare legislation passed then? Hmm, interesting!

So you genuinely believe that a single paragraph, consisting of nine lines, written in a policy document contains every piece of argument and reasoning put forth before Parliament during the petitioning process?

That's like reading the synopsis in the dustjacket of War and Peace and then believing you've read the whole novel.
 

OwlMan

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From http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publication...res-policy.pdf

This is relevant:-
2 Background
Origins
2.1 A penalty fares system was first developed in the late 1980s by the Network SouthEast sector
of British Rail (BR), as a way to protect revenue in its particular circumstances. As well as
reducing the expense of inspecting tickets at ticket barriers, BR also wanted to reduce the
number of cases that were referred to the courts. Before penalty fares were introduced, the
only way to deter people from travelling without a ticket was to prosecute them under the
Regulation of Railways Act 1889.
This was time-consuming, costly and often ineffective. For
a prosecution to be successful, it had to be proved that the passenger intended to avoid paying.
This was often difficult as most passengers without tickets were willing to pay if they were
challenged, but did not pay if they were not challenged.
So, either:-


  • This statement is incorrect and Parliament were misled by the rail industry; OR
  • Some TOCs are acting in a way that is not consistent with the powers that Parliament believes they should act.

That may have been true in 2002.

The ByeLaws were enacted by the Secretary of state in June 2005 so post date that paper.

Made under Section 219 of the Transport Act 2000 by the Strategic Rail Authority (the “Authority”) and confirmed under Schedule 20 of the Transport Act 2000 by the Secretary of State for Transport on 22 June 2005 for regulating the use and working of, and travel on or by means of, railway assets, the maintenance of order on railway assets and the conduct of all persons while on railway assets (the “Byelaws”).


Peter
 

yorkie

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I've not researched what updates were done in 2005 but the relevant part (Section 18) has been there for quite some time, long before 2005!

If the TOCs should be prosecuting people for byelaw offences, then where are the prosecutions for people entering train doors before everyone has exited?

So you genuinely believe that a single paragraph, consisting of nine lines, written in a policy document contains every piece of argument and reasoning put forth before Parliament during the petitioning process?

That's like reading the synopsis in the dustjacket of War and Peace and then believing you've read the whole novel.
Not at all, but if that's the gist of it, and it clearly states "the only way" not "there are ways not covered in detail here, go and read this...", then I think my point stands!

If you are arguing that the statement is incorrect and there is more detail, then why is the summary so misleading, and can you please enlighten us as to the detail?
 

ralphchadkirk

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If the TOCs should be prosecuting people for byelaw offences, then where are the prosecutions for people entering train doors before everyone has exited?

Just because it is an offence doesn't mean that they are obliged to prosecute for it. There isn't one law that they are only allowed to prosecute under; there are many from the Theft Act 1968, RRA 1889, Fraud Act 2006 and the Railway Byelaws 2005. They can select the most appropriate one to prosecute with.

No Government department, or anyone, can instruct someone to disregard a piece of legislation.
 

yorkie

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Just because it is an offence doesn't mean that they are obliged to prosecute for it.
Which is kind of my point really! Obviously it was argued that the rail industry wasn't prosecuting for it, but that claim appears to be incorrect.
There isn't one law that they are only allowed to prosecute under; there are many from the Theft Act 1968, RRA 1889, Fraud Act 2006 and the Railway Byelaws 2005. They can select the most appropriate one to prosecute with.
I think you can forgive them for not mentioning Theft & Fraud Acts for obvious reasons, but certainly the claim was made that RRA 1889 was the only act normally available.

No Government department, or anyone, can instruct someone to disregard a piece of legislation.
You can word it how you want but clearly the rail industry was claiming that a Byelaw prosecution was not an option, but that appears not to be the case in reality.

Train travel is not recommended for the forgetful, and certainly not carnets. It isn't worth the risk of a life ending criminal record. Driving offences, by contrast, are punished far less harshly. You are unlikely to injure someone by fare dodging, but speeding (i.e. putting other people's lives at risk) is only punished with a modest fine and penalty points, and maybe a driving ban. You are even allowed to kill someone in your car and still get away without a criminal record if it is considered an 'accident'.
I can't really fault that view. It's most concerning. The law should be changed, for sure, in so many ways.
 

island

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And indeed many job application forms requesting details of convictions have wording to the effect that driving offences need not be mentioned.
 

radamfi

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Do many other European countries punish fare evasion with a criminal record for the first offence?

Looking at the SBB website,

http://www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/sbb-customer-service/travelling-without-a-ticket.html

they effectively have a penalty fare system for the whole country. But there is no mention of prosecution or even fines. Instead, they have expensive 'supplements'. For the third and subsequent offences, you pay 160 francs (£105) on top of the fare. Still no criminal record.

I would rather have this system as less revenue is likely to be lost to fare evasion, but genuine mistakes are not punished with a criminal record.
 
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Monty

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From http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publication...res-policy.pdf

This is relevant:-
2 Background
Origins
2.1 A penalty fares system was first developed in the late 1980s by the Network SouthEast sector
of British Rail (BR), as a way to protect revenue in its particular circumstances. As well as
reducing the expense of inspecting tickets at ticket barriers, BR also wanted to reduce the
number of cases that were referred to the courts. Before penalty fares were introduced, the
only way to deter people from travelling without a ticket was to prosecute them under the
Regulation of Railways Act 1889.
This was time-consuming, costly and often ineffective. For
a prosecution to be successful, it had to be proved that the passenger intended to avoid paying.
This was often difficult as most passengers without tickets were willing to pay if they were
challenged, but did not pay if they were not challenged.
So, either:-


  • This statement is incorrect and Parliament were misled by the rail industry; OR
  • Some TOCs are acting in a way that is not consistent with the powers that Parliament believes they should act.

Not every TOC has a penalty fare scheme nor do they issue TIRs (which are not enforcable in court may I add), so byelaw 18 is useful where intent cannot be proven (and the company cannot issue a PFN) or where prosecution under the regluation of the railways act is not appropriate.
 

jon0844

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I promise I won't go into a big long post about my personal incident with FCC, but it IS worth pointing out that when I was 'done' the RPI concerned had been promoted to a new fraud investigation team that FCC had set up. (For the benefit of those who don't know - the staff member concerned got it totally wrong, and I had my prosecution dropped by the end of the very same day).

I can only assume by the huge increase in prosecutions, and the use of Byelaw 18, that FCC has been expanding this team and the staff working there are told to skip giving PFs. After all, Byelaw 18 seems to be usable for almost everyone - and if they're willing to accept an out of court settlement for £150-200 or whatever, that's going to net FCC a lot more than £20 (or a bit more if it's double the single fare and higher than the PF value).

I don't travel enough to see what is happening to passengers caught now - but in the past, my complaint was that far too many people who were admitting to fare evasion were still only getting a PF. It seems that FCC has decided to get tougher, but has possibly allowed its revenue staff to get a little carried away...
 

yorkie

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Not every TOC has a penalty fare scheme nor do they issue TIRs (which are not enforcable in court may I add)
A TIR is a ticket irregularity report, which means the matter is investigated to determine the cause of the irregularity. Are you saying that no matters that are investigated in this way can be enforced in court?
so byelaw 18 is useful where intent cannot be proven (and the company cannot issue a PFN)
Firstly, if there's no intent, why prosecute? And secondly, your part in brackets confuses me because that has nothing to do with intent, and the TOCs that typically use the Byelaws to prosecute can issue penalty fare notices, e.g. FCC.

...or where prosecution under the regluation of the railways act is not appropriate.
But when would it be appropriate to prosecute under the Byelaws but not appropriate to use the Regulation of Railways Act?

If someone has lost their ticket, made a mistake, etc, then surely a prosecution is not appropriate full stop.

The Byelaws appear to allow passengers to be prosecuted for making an honest mistake. The Regulation of Railways Act does not.

Interestingly, an FCC RPI I spoke with confirms that they are trained to only take MG11 statements if there is evidence of intent. However some RPIs go against this, and the Company prosecutes under Byelaws that do not require intent.

We also know for a fact that RPIs who have been caught acting incorrectly are retained by FCC and let off, and continue to behave inappropriately, as evidenced by the actions of the RPI who has the vendetta against jonmorris0844.

I promise I won't go into a big long post about my personal incident with FCC, but it IS worth pointing out that when I was 'done' the RPI concerned had been promoted to a new fraud investigation team that FCC had set up. (For the benefit of those who don't know - the staff member concerned got it totally wrong, and I had my prosecution dropped by the end of the very same day)..
This makes interesting reading:
www.penaltyfareappeal.co.uk/files/PFAS2009-1-FCCTET.doc
I realise some people will claim it is biased and defend FCC, but many of the allegations made in that report are consistent with reports from other customers.

Furthermore, FCC has a proven record of having inadequate procedures in other areas (RAIB report), so it is uninspiring that there are major failings in their revenue department, such failings are consistent with a Company that does not have adequate leadership and proper safeguards in place.

Despite all this, there is of course, no prospect of First losing the franchise, so we're stuck with them for the foreseeable future.
 

Ferret

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Well, in the case of my employers, you're given the option to pay. At the point at which you decline to pay then you are demonstrating intent to avoid your fare. Well, unless you are RJ using a bunch of random tickets which he knows are valid but the Guard thinks otherwise, but that's a rather bizarre exception!:)

I think tbh, Byelaw 18 is being used because it minimises the risk of bringing a case to Court and losing. If Parliament really are unhappy with this practice, I expect the Byelaws to be withdrawn or rewritten pronto.
 
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