Getting the benefit of doubt

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by ReverendFozz, 17 Jun 2013.

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  1. ReverendFozz

    ReverendFozz Member

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    I am not actually in trouble, but want to ask about something that happened to me at Durham about 7 years ago.

    Coming back from Newcastle one afternoon to Durham, I left my ticket on the train, my mate who was travelling on to Darlington and she had hold of my ticket and I forgot to get it off her as when I got to Durham I had to quick to the bus station.

    I get off the train, knowing I had to be in a hurry, I attempted to jump the fence on the Southbound Platform, as I did, 2 BTP officers collared me asking why I attempted to jump the fence, told them I was in a rush for a bus, I was asked to produce my ticket, and obviously I could not show a ticket I did not have on me, obviously BTP and Platform Staff did not believe me, they probably hear things like that all the time. I guess I did not help myself by jumping a fence and it probably made me more likely to be guilty of something.

    As talking went on between myself and BTP, they would not let me try and prove it and themselves make an attempt to prove it themselves, I suppose that would not really be an option as it could take quite some time.

    In the end, I ended up paying for new ticket, and decided to buy a first class single from Newcastle to Durham to make up for the trouble and inconvenience I caused to BTP, I guess I was lucky that day not to get a Penalty Fare and accepted what I did was stupid, and made me look like I had fare evader written all over me...It was proved a few weeks later, my mate had kept hold of my ticket, and the next time I was in Durham I actually proved I was not lying and was 'let it be a lesson learnt'...Could TOCs not give the benefit of doubt and give the customer say 7 days to somehow proved there not lying, I dont know, hand a producer out, like Police do when a driver does not there licence handy, and give the customer the chance to clear there name, and if not, the prosecutions can commence.

    Do the rules and regulations say you have to keep hold of a ticket till you leave the station. In the end, I accepted it and learnt a lesson, I have a guilty looking face most of the time, so jumping a fence is probably and idiotic thing to try.

    At the end of the day, I know and fully understand the TOCs stance on fare evasion amd rightfully so, and doing things out of place is utterly stupid...

    Over to you guys
     
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  3. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    The problem with that is how you prove that you actually used the ticket. You can show a ticket, but can't prove someone else wasn't using it on the day.

    Where it has to be you (with a season ticket) TOCs usually do let you produce it later.
     
  4. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    In an ideal world a producer type benefit of the doubt system would be ideal for such circumstances. Unfortunately, we are not in an ideal world. The whole point about being able to produce a ticket on demand, is that if you don't have it, what's to say you've not given it to a mate or something? Even if you produce the ticket 7-days later and can prove it was valid for that journey, what's to say the reason you couldn't produce it at the time was because you lend it to a friend? What's to say it is even your ticket? Could be any old ticket, surely?

    I'd be questioning how anybody couldn't find a ticket at the time, yet have done 7-days later or something, unless it's a season ticket of course. Regarding season tickets, I believe most TOCs give 7-days grace if you've left it at home or something, as long as it's not a regular occurrence.

    Something like jumping the fence would usually be a fairly easy fare evasion conviction at court, as by those actions, you'd have a hard job explaining why you didn't simply see the staff on the gates.
     
  5. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    You would never have been given a Penalty Fare (PF) under those circumstances anyway, with the BTP catching you leaping over a fence I'm certain that would overrule the PF option even in a PF area. I don't think GNER operated such a scheme though.

    PFs are only supposed to be given to people making genuine mistakes.
     
  6. Harlesden

    Harlesden Member

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    Common sense to me. Source- 40 years of rail travel.
     
  7. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Yes, you have to have your ticket with you under Byelaws 17(2) or 18(2) (see here), depending on whether it was a compulsory ticket area or not.

    The two major issues with providing a ticket within the next 7 days, or any similar scheme is that it would often be impossible to know that you hadn't:

    1. Purchased the ticket after travelling
    2. Borrowed a ticket used by someone else

    While it's potentially easy to imagine ways of countering option 1 (quite a lot of tickets are have time of printing on them somewhere), countering option 2 would seem to be very difficult.

    Certainly, organised fare dodgers would come up with ways of getting round this, and you might imagine groups of mates only purchasing one ticket between them etc...
     
  8. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

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    Here's one that happened to me on T&W Metro.

    On a day off, I needed to pop into work to collect something from my locker. I bought a Metro return from Haymarket. On the return journey, there was a block of 'checkies' (as they are colloquially known) on the barrier line at Haymarket. Despite much searching, I was unable to find my ticket - and was led off into an office for a PF to be issued. (Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth - as I cursed my luck afterwards.)

    Next day, back at work, I found the ticket on the floor by my locker. I posted it off to Nexus with the PF form and the PF was quashed.
     
  9. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    Again..An ideal world scenario whereby a decent member of Revenue staff use the correct judgement and not just whip out the old PF pad. Such factors as age, whether the person has been caught before for a similar offence etc will obviously play a part. Sometimes, staff use their discretion and 'give the person a break' as far as reporting them for a first offence, even of fare evasion goes. As a rule though, I agree that a PF is for non-fare evasion matters..If only all staff saw it this way.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    That was awfully nice of them :lol:

    The Penalty Fare was obviously correctly issued, and the staff, I assume, advised you to appeal on these grounds? Which is fine. What grinds with me is when staff almost 'guaranty' that the customer will have the PF overturn if they produce their ticket on appeal. This makes life difficult further down the line for staff, as there is no guaranty as it's an open/shut case really! I can see why staff would say such things, as it alleviates the confrontation a lot of the time.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jun 2013
  10. ModernRailways

    ModernRailways Established Member

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    The time on the ticket would have also helped, and would help in most cases. Now you can no longer buy a return ticket (they are all DaySavers, allowing Unlimited travel within the zones specified) it would have been easy for them to know that you were telling the truth. It also helps how you word a letter to the TOC, a nice letter apoligising for your mistake but providing proof that you indeed did have a ticket will more than likely see the PF squashed, the only time it wouldn't be is if there is something else withstanding.

    In the case of OP, it would be difficult to prove who a ticket belonged too unless it put your name on it and you had to provide proof. I remember someone on a train I was on, had found a ticket on the floor and was going to use it. It had a name on it (had been booked online and had the Mr XXXXX) and the person using it tried to use this to persuade the guard it was his by using that name. Not only did the man not realise he was digging himself a bigger hole because the ticket actually required a Disabled Child railcard (he looked late 40s - typical dirty old chav) for it to be valid, but their were BTP just in the vestibule and he was hurling abuse (verbal) at the train guard. Eventually the guard said 'Okay, can I just go show the ticket to my manager', to which the man obliged, he didn't realise the guard went and got the BTP and the man was thrown off at the next stop.

    Hopefully, when smartcards become the way of ticketing it will be much easier to appeal if you do genuinely forget it. If you forget your pass regularly (weekly/bi-weekly) then you will receive a fine of anything up to £80 for wasting Train Company resources on multiple occasions.
     
  11. TonyR

    TonyR Member

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    You were lucky. My ticket wallet fell out of my pocket onto the seat. When I got to the terminus and tried to find my ticket I couldn't so once the rush had gone I approached a member of staff at the gate and was issued a Penalty Fare. It turned out that the person next to me had spotted my ticket wallet and handed it in to the very staff who were PFing me so my ticket was in their hands at the time. Since it had my Photocard & Season Ticket (for another journey) in it they could have easily identified me and must have known whoever dropped it would be having to exit without a ticket. I found out what had happened when I reported a lost Season Ticket and got the wallet back from them a few days later complete with my missing ticket but my Penalty Fare appeal was rejected
     
  12. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

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    Indeed I was. But (contrary to Stigy's belief) it demonstrates that there are number of legitimate scenarios where a passenger is unable to produce a ticket at the time, but manages to do so later.
     
  13. Fare-Cop

    Fare-Cop Member

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    In some instances there may be a case for producing a ticket 'after the event' and having the report discontinued. PF appeals allow for that process too.

    Obviously, where a season ticket has been left behind or misplaced and it can be shown that this was genuine error, then common sense should prevail, but this does not negate the fact that a strict liability breach of Byelaw could be pursued.

    This rule is necessary to deter those who fail to pay and then later submit a ticket collected from a pal who made the same journey on that day.

    The offence is 'fail to produce'.
     
  14. W230

    W230 Established Member

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    This is the main point for me. While obviously extremely annoying to be given a PF for losing a ticket when you had bought one, it is the deemed punishment for a genuine mistake. I would also be annoyed at having to pay a PF but would be aware that it was my own stupidity and the fault of no-one else but myself. I also feel that I would be much less likely to make the mistake again in future. Checking and double checking that I had my ticket.

    I can understand why people feel aggrieved at being penalised for genuine mistakes though but as you mention, it's there to help protect the TOC from those who fail to pay.

    I think alot of the confusion with PF's comes from people thinking that they're not being given the benfit of the doubt, as they see it as a punishement (bit like a FPT for a motoring offence). Hence, they refuse to pay, later discover they've made a boo-boo and ask for advice on how to avoid a prosecution in court...
     
  15. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    But a Penalty Fare is a punishment in all but name. One is entitled to feel aggrieved by it if it was an innocent mistake.
     
  16. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I'm not saying there aren't legitimate scenarios. I'm saying that most staff have heard it all before and therefore it's easier to work with the fact that the passenger could be trying to pull the wool over their eyes and eliminate the negatives, instead of going straight for the assumption that it's a legitimate reason and giving benefit of the doubt. Jumping the fence to get out of a station to avoid the barriers or staff, would....Or at least should, set alarm bells ringing if the customer claims to simply have lost their ticket. Is that reasonable behaviour for a simple 'lost ticket'? Maybe I guess, depending on their past experience with the railways, or just if they're a worrier and don't want to have to explain themselves to staff. The problem is, it doesn't look too good.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2013
  17. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    You were fortunate - they could have turned around and said that you picked the ticket up from the floor (which happens all the time).
     
  18. blacknight

    blacknight Member

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    Under the above legislation it is still an offence against railway bye laws to attempt to leave a station where no official exit exists. Oxford union discuss
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    As opposed to stating they left it on the train:D
     
  19. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Of course, the best way to get the benefit of the doubt would be to get invited onto the classic Radio 4 pannel game "Just A Minute" with Nicholas Parsons adjudicating :)
     
  20. TonyR

    TonyR Member

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    They'd probably get you for hesitation or (route) deviation instead
     
  21. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Best one I've heard recently when stopped at a barrier without a ticket at a city centre Metro station:

    "I put it in the yellow bin downstairs".

    Anyone familiar with the Metro network will know the yellow bins were removed, then replaced with clear plastic bags.
     
  22. dvboy

    dvboy Established Member

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    I lost a cross-London ticket on the tube last week. I still had a seat reservation forthe journey to London, and the return journey ticket on me. I was given the benefit of the doubt at both the tube and NR gatelines at Victoria, advised to speak to the conductor - there wasnt one and the barrier at Haywards Heath was open, but I believe a polite explanation helped me out here. Jumping the barrier was probably the worst thing the OP could have done.
     
    Last edited: 23 Jun 2013
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