First Capital Connect Notice to Prosecute

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MrsA

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Hi,
I am hoping for some advice after reading other threads on your forum. My son (he is 21 so an adult) recieved one of these notices. At the end of Feb he bought a ticket from Kings Cross to Potters Bar at around 8.30am (after being out in London all night), got on the WGC train, fell asleep, must have gone to WGC but woke up on the return journey of the train at Potters Bar, got off, got caught, got notice through. Oh dear, I have just discovered this today (he tried to keep me out of it) and am in a panic. Reading other threads it would seem that the thing to do is await the reply (which seems likely to say he is still off to court) then write and offer to pay a reasonable amount. My Question is, what amount should he offer? I am guessing at something like £150?
 
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MrsA

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Yes, just wanting an idea of what to offer them when the next letter comes, to try and avoid court. I know what he did was stupid, but it's done now and nothing can alter it!
 

Ferret

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Hi,
I am hoping for some advice after reading other threads on your forum. My son (he is 21 so an adult) recieved one of these notices. At the end of Feb he bought a ticket from Kings Cross to Potters Bar at around 8.30am (after being out in London all night), got on the WGC train, fell asleep, must have gone to WGC but woke up on the return journey of the train at Potters Bar, got off, got caught, got notice through. Oh dear, I have just discovered this today (he tried to keep me out of it) and am in a panic. Reading other threads it would seem that the thing to do is await the reply (which seems likely to say he is still off to court) then write and offer to pay a reasonable amount. My Question is, what amount should he offer? I am guessing at something like £150?

I presume this is his first issue with a railway ticketing matter?

I'd say that's probably a reasonable offer, will be down to FCC to decide what to do next.
 

GadgetMan

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So he got "caught" exiting Potters Bar station or was it on the train?

Thats what I was thinking, if he got caught exiting the station, how did they know what train he had come off and why would he have been questioned as he would have been holding a reasonably valid ticket for exiting Potters Bar.

Did they not write to your son asking for his version of events previous to the intention to prosecute notice?
 

MrsA

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I don't really know the ins and outs of the matter yet, whether he was on train or at station, as he is at work and I only found out during the day today when the notice was returned here in error (he had written his version of events on it but I can't remember now his exact wording). Have a feeling it was at station, they would have seen which platform exit he came down so they would know. He was not given option to pay penalty fare, he would have preferred to have done so, he actually thought the man was issuing penalty fare but it was this instead (he has had to pay the £20 penalty once before I am afraid). I am so worried about it, and so angry with him also. In his silly attempt to keep it to himself and not ask me for help or for advice (probably because I gave him enough grief that day over getting stuck in London all night in the first place-it's a VERY long story!) he has ended up getting rid of his ticket from Kings Cross to Potters Bar so he has no evidence at all that he even had that ticket! I know he has NO EXCUSE for what has happened but am just eager to try and prevent a court appearance and criminal record which would have repercussions for him I am sure.
 

Brucey

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As soon as you can, get hold of all the facts and post back here. It seems to me like a very genuine mistake, which I'm sure we've all done at one time or another.

We also need to know which law is being used for prosecutions: Railway Byelaws (in which case, which one) or the Regulation of Railways Act.
 

GadgetMan

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he has ended up getting rid of his ticket from Kings Cross to Potters Bar so he has no evidence at all that he even had that ticket!


I can understand you are a bit cheesed off with him at the moment. Issues like this are best dealt with in a calm and patient manner. As mentioned above, you need to post up all the facts, but leave out details like date/time etc. It is important that he is honest with you about exactly what happened and what he has put in his statement to FCC.

Are you sure he got rid of the ticket? The member of railway staff may have confiscated it, or at the very least recorded the details of the ticket he held at the time.
 

MrsA

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Ok, I will do that when the next letter comes. I don't think he will have kept any paperwork and in my panic this afteroon to return the form that had come back here in error (it was meant to be back by Friday which it would have been had my son crossed out our home address on the envelope before adding the reply address!) by next day delivery at the Post Office, I have also failed to make copies of it or it's contents. I don't know how long FCC usually take to reply but I will post back here when he gets the next letter and, hopefully, someone will be able to advise me on what steps to take. Thank you everyone for the replies up until now.
 

34D

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Thats what I was thinking, if he got caught exiting the station, how did they know what train he had come off and why would he have been questioned as he would have been holding a reasonably valid ticket for exiting Potters Bar.

Did they not write to your son asking for his version of events previous to the intention to prosecute notice?

Suggest you look at the station layout on stations made easy, and you'll then see that there are two different bits of barrier.
 

GadgetMan

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Suggest you look at the station layout on stations made easy, and you'll then see that there are two different bits of barrier.

Fair enough, I'm not familiar with that part of the network. To avoid confusion I wasn't implying anything. It was just curiosity.
 

Ferret

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I don't really know the ins and outs of the matter yet, whether he was on train or at station, as he is at work and I only found out during the day today when the notice was returned here in error (he had written his version of events on it but I can't remember now his exact wording). Have a feeling it was at station, they would have seen which platform exit he came down so they would know. He was not given option to pay penalty fare, he would have preferred to have done so, he actually thought the man was issuing penalty fare but it was this instead (he has had to pay the £20 penalty once before I am afraid). I am so worried about it, and so angry with him also. In his silly attempt to keep it to himself and not ask me for help or for advice (probably because I gave him enough grief that day over getting stuck in London all night in the first place-it's a VERY long story!) he has ended up getting rid of his ticket from Kings Cross to Potters Bar so he has no evidence at all that he even had that ticket! I know he has NO EXCUSE for what has happened but am just eager to try and prevent a court appearance and criminal record which would have repercussions for him I am sure.

Hmmm, the previous penalty fare may be a fly in the ointment. Not wishing to cast aspersions, but are you confident there are no other incidents that he hasn't told you about? Any history of not paying the fare makes it more likely that a prosecution will result, but that's not to say it's a certainty, and I'd still offer to settle before it gets to that stage.

If it does go to Court, I'd expect it to be a byelaw prosecution, which I'm sure you'll be aware by now should *not* result in a criminal record, but merely a costly day out.
 

MrsA

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The situation is getting worse as I learn more and more from my son so am fairly sure that he will end up in court anyway. I can't handle writing it down here at the moment(too upset). Will the next letter state which law he is being prosecuted under? It's the having a criminal record bit that is my biggest worry, especially with the job market as it is. He has a job at present, but it isn't what he wants to do longterm, so is applying for other jobs all the time, and a criminal record will have a huge effect on this obviously. I guess it will still be worth offering say £200 as an out of court settlement, but, as you say, Ferret, as he has had a previous £20 fine (and not learned from it) it seems very unlikely that he would receive any sympathy whatsoever. The night in question will indeed be an extremely costly one!:(
 

Brucey

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You could ask FCC for copies of everything they have sent so far. They may (or may not) be willing to do this.

Get all the info on here ASAP, as time is ticking. The longer the information is here, the more time people have to help your son.
 

DaveNewcastle

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You could ask FCC for copies of everything they have sent so far. They may (or may not) be willing to do this.
The Prosecution will supply copies of all the Witness Statements which they intend to use under their duty to disclose.

Will the next letter state which law he is being prosecuted under?
The decision of whether to continue to persue a Prosecution and under which Law or Byelaw would normally be made after reading the passenger's Witness Statement. If Prosecution is persued, then, eventually, a Summons will be received from the Court, to which the passenger may plea Guilty or Not Guilty by post or indicate that they wish to attend in person.

However, all we have on here to consider is too vague to make any reliable recommendations. Its certainly not clear what the passenger, the son, has actually said in his Statements any more than what the Rail staff will have noted in their own Statements. Without knowledge of this Evidence, there's little that can be said.

Its even likely that the 'previous incident' in which £20 was charged was merely a "Penalty Fare" which would have absolutely no bearing on his Rail travel history and does not imply any wrongdoing.

Any advice based on such limited knowledge as we have here at present is inevitably going to be unreliable.
 
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aformeruser

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You could ask FCC for copies of everything they have sent so far. They may (or may not) be willing to do this.

If her son was under 18 and there had been correspondence without her knowledge I imagine they would have to provide copies on request but as he's over 18 I imagine not.
 

MrsA

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Sorry for being vague, but as I only saw my sons reply yesterday very briefly and, as I said, in my panic returned it without making a copy, all I can really remember is that he is being prosecuted for travelling without a ticket. This is the case, and his falling asleep has no bearing on the matter really as he was using an oyster card which wouldn't have got him as far as Potters Bar anyway. I am so angry as, on the day in question, I was aware that he was at Kings Cross with no money and was offering to go down there on the train to buy him a ticket. He said no to me and asked passersby for change til he had enough to put money on oyster card (he told me he was getting a ticket). So, there we go, it's a right old mess. It's true, he did fall asleep and ended up going to WGC and back to Potters Bar before getting off, but as he was using an oyster card he should never have travelled furthur than Hadley Wood (I think). I think he will have to wait for his reply and then try writing to offer an out of court settlement.
As DaveNewcastle has said, his previous fine WAS a £20 penalty fare, so will this have a bearing on his history and make an out of court settlement less likely?
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . . his previous fine WAS a £20 penalty fare, so will this have a bearing on his history and make an out of court settlement less likely?
It will have no bearing on his travel history - there wil be no record of it and as stated, there is no suggestion of wrongdoing attached to a Penalty Fare.

It is reasonable to presume that there would be merit in making a full, frank and apologetic explanation of the circumstances to the Prosecutions Department. FCC have a robust policy towards Fare Evasion, and receive many reports of extraordinary behaviour in mitigation which cannot all be believed, but if they don't recieve an explanation of the circumstances then they can't even make an informed decision. I would suggest that the time to make that explanation is before a Summons is issued.
 

MrsA

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Thanks Dave, I will get my son To contact FCC immeditely when their next letter comes, which, no doubt, will say they will continue with action after receiving his statement. He has been silly in trying to defend his actions by saying he was asleep and did not intentionally avoid rail fare when, in fact, he did as he was trying to get home on an oyster card and had no cash on him to pay for the remainder of the journey. So I think when he writes he will have to just 'come clean' about the situation and apologise and we will have to keep all our fingers crossed that his apology and his offer to pay to keep it from going to court actually has the desired effect. I hope they don't take too long to reply as it's all I can think about at the moment.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . he will have to just 'come clean' about the situation and apologise . . . . .
Indeed.

Though it is often helpful to consider one of the principles of any professional advice: Don't admit to anything that you haven't been accused of.
(Some might even reduce that further, to: Don't admit to anything.)
 

MrsA

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Ok, apparently my son had about £4 on oystercard, which would only have got him as far as New Southgate, so I have calculated that by sleeping and going to WGC before coming back on same train to Potters Bar he failed to pay the £11.90 it would have cost him. However, the prosecution is only for the WGC to Potters Bar part of the journey as the man didn't believe the being asleep story (which is definitely the truth) and that he had begun his journey at Kings Cross.The only thing the man wrote on his form was "no, not really" which was my son's response when asked if he had thought about getting a ticket at Welwyn GC. Obviously he hadn't as he was asleep and unaware of where he was!! My next question is when writing a letter to offer £200 out of court settlement, should he only mention the part of the journey that he is being charged for, or should he tell the whole story? The problem is that in his attempt to sort this out without parental involvement (we would have advised the telling the truth) he has written on his reply to FCC that he had a ticket to get from Kings Cross to PB and did not mention the oystercard part. I am just wondering what he should say now in furthur correspondence with FCC when, undoubtably, they decide to go ahead with prosecution.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Actually, unpaid fare is £14.60 in reality as my son did not depart train at New Southgate and the fares should have beeen KX to WGC £10 and WGC to PB £4.60 (well that's the journey he made whilst asleep anyway).
 

Ferret

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Dave - do we know for sure FCC do not keep records of PFs handed out? We have records of who has had UFNs.....
 

GadgetMan

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Not sure on FCC policy. But London Midland and East Midlands Trains Penalty Fares normally get recorded by IRCAS. I know this because when I ring to check addresses for issuing UFNs they normally mention previous UFNs and PFs both paid and outstanding going back a number of years.
 

island

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Not sure on FCC policy. But London Midland and East Midlands Trains Penalty Fares normally get recorded by IRCAS. I know this because when I ring to check addresses for issuing UFNs they normally mention previous UFNs and PFs both paid and outstanding going back a number of years.

I wonder if that's legal. Sounds like it could breach the Data Protection Act.
 

GadgetMan

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I wonder if that's legal. Sounds like it could breach the Data Protection Act.

No idea. But I think it's a great tool for catching regular ticketless travellers. I don't want to be issuing a UFN to someone who has previous outstanding debts to the railway.
 

yorkie

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No idea. But I think it's a great tool for catching regular ticketless travellers. I don't want to be issuing a UFN to someone who has previous outstanding debts to the railway.
If they have outstanding debts, then I can't see an issue there.

But in this case there is no outstanding debt as the fare was paid.
 

Ferret

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I wonder if that's legal. Sounds like it could breach the Data Protection Act.

Which part of the DPA? You've got me curious now! Point is, even if the previous UFNs or PFs have been paid, if there's say a history of 3 of them, then I've clearly got someone who regularly boards without a valid ticket and I will then deal with it accordingly - ie a TIR.
 

island

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Which part of the DPA? You've got me curious now! Point is, even if the previous UFNs or PFs have been paid, if there's say a history of 3 of them, then I've clearly got someone who regularly boards without a valid ticket and I will then deal with it accordingly - ie a TIR.

Schedule 1, part 1, article 5.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Dave - do we know for sure FCC do not keep records of PFs handed out? We have records of who has had UFNs.....
I do not know.
I guess that there may good good administrative reasons to maintain ledger data of debts and receipts no least of which is to achieve a satisfactory standard of accounting, and this would be necessary for all civil debts including Penalty Fares and Unpaid Fares Notices.
However, I would be very surprised if the personal data attached to Penalty Fares are recorded as identifiable personal data which could be used by investigators. I regret to say that I have reports of one element of the industry which has not treated personal records of passengers with the respect for confidentiality which I would expect from a reputable body in receipt of public finance; reports which appear to be consistent. Perhaps others in the industry adopt similar attitudes to passengers awarded with a Penalty Fare.
 
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