Help with Prosecution Letter

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Dan4655

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Hello,

I am seeking advice on a situation involving a prosecution letter from London Midland. I do not have the letter to hand as it has been sent to my home address and I am currently at University, but my Dad has phoned me to outline it for me and will be sending the letter to me to respond, which I need to do within 7 days.

The outline of the letter is that London Midland are intending to prosecute for an incident three weeks ago at Birmingham New Street Station. They have asked me to complete an attached form including name, address, gender, occupation and national insurance number and any comments I wish to make.

The incident in question occured on a Friday morning when I was travelling to do some temporary work in Birmingham. I travelled from Canley, where the ticket office was closed and the Permit to Travel machine was out of order. The train into New Street was late, so I was in a rush to get to work and did not see the Revenue Protection Officer until he was in front of me and asking for my ticket. I don't know whether it was a lack of sleep the night before, as I was stressing about exams four days after and how I should be revising instead of working, or the panic in being late for work, but I made a light hearted comment of "Could've got away with one there!", which I now look back on as an embarrasing facepalm moment. I think the RPO took it as that and didn't seem bothered when I went back to go to the temporary ticket stand to by the ticket.

However, whilst in the queue, another woman came up to me and asked where I had travelled from. I answered Canley and she said "come with me" and took me back to the RPO who took my details and asked me a series of questions including "What did you mean by "I could've got away with that one"? to which I replied "Without paying for a ticket." He also asked me how I would have bought a ticket had he not been there, to which I replied "On my return journey". Another question was "From what I have gathered it seems that you attempted to exit the station without purchasing a ticket. Is this correct?" I replied yes to this as it is the honest answer as I was attempting to get out of the station as quickly as possible to avoid being late for work.

After these questions, I was told I would be receiving a letter and to carry on. I started to go back to the queue to pay for the ticket, when the officer stopped me and said to just go through the barriers. I again attempted to purchase the ticket for both journeys on my return, but was refused by the lady on the temporary ticket office as she said I should've had to pay a penalty fare at the time due to the inspectors, so i could only buy the ticket for the trip back.

I have never had any problems on the train before and am a regular user, as I have travelled from uni to Wolverhampton for rugby nearly every Sunday by train for rugby, so I have a large pile of tickets to show that I am not one of the people the company needs to seriously worry about. Having read the threads from people in similar situations, it seems that there is a large community of people generous enough to help fools like me and offer advice on what to do next. I would obviously rather make an out-of-court settlement if possible, but wonder if my stupid comments have made this unlikely and would like to know whether any of the above information would be suitable in the comments section, or whether to send a separate letter enquiring about a settlement. I apologise for the length of this post, and hope the information is clear enough to get some help. I will post more about the letter when I recieve it.

Dan
 
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yorkie

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Welcome to the forum.
Another question was "From what I have gathered it seems that you attempted to exit the station without purchasing a ticket. Is this correct?" I replied yes to this
That sounds to me like sufficient evidence for a prosecution under the Regulation of Railways Act to succeed, as you have admitted it.

Therefore, if you do not want a criminal record, the only possible way out of it that I can see, would be to offer to settle out of court.
I have never had any problems on the train before....
Do you mean you've always made payment for these journeys?
Having read the threads from people in similar situations, it seems that there is a large community of people generous enough to help fools like me and offer advice on what to do next.
Yes, I would offer advise to settle out of court, to avoid a criminal record.
I would obviously rather make an out-of-court settlement if possible
I agree this is the best course.
but wonder if my stupid comments have made this unlikely
Well, they've made a prosecution highly likely to succeed. But that does not necessarily mean they won't settle out of court on this occasion.
and would like to know whether any of the above information would be suitable in the comments section, or whether to send a separate letter enquiring about a settlement.
If you've been asked to make a further Statement, then do so, ensuring you don't further incriminate yourself and don't contradict what you've already said.

I would send a letter to accompany the statement that offers to settle out of court, paying any expenses incurred and apologising for their time wasted dealing with this regrettable incident.

I don't want to get your hopes up, and I don't know how willing LM are to settle out of court, but so far it does appear most people in this sort of situation who have asked on here and subsequently told us the outcome, are able to negotiate an out of court settlement for a first offence.
 

34D

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I think the RPO took it as that and didn't seem bothered when I went back to go to the temporary ticket stand to by the ticket.
New Street seems to change all the time - was this temporary ticket stand conspicuous? Was the barrier an actual automatic barrier, or just some staff stood across an exit?
 

Dan4655

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Welcome to the forum.
Thank you! Although I would obviously prefer to have joined under less worrying circumstances!

Do you mean you've always made payment for these journeys?
Yep, as mentioned I have a stack of train tickets to Wolverhampton for rugby and Birmingham for work, including one from the previous day for the same journey. Do you think it would be suitable to photocopy some of these and send it with the letter to show that this was a honest one-off incident?

If you've been asked to make a further Statement, then do so, ensuring you don't further incriminate yourself and don't contradict what you've already said.
I am an honest person and would not lie in such a serious situation, but I will obviously be much more aware of what I write in such a letter than I was at the station. If anybody would be willing to have a quick look at my letter once I write it, it would be much appreciated.


I don't want to get your hopes up, and I don't know how willing LM are to settle out of court, but so far it does appear most people in this sort of situation who have asked on here and subsequently told us the outcome, are able to negotiate an out of court settlement for a first offence.
Hoping this will be the case, but people in other threads haven't made the same daft comments as I did, so was unsure about it.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
New Street seems to change all the time - was this temporary ticket stand conspicuous? Was the barrier an actual automatic barrier, or just some staff stood across an exit?
It was the exit onto Stephenson Street, which I came out of as it seems to be the quickest way to the ICC, where I was working. The ticket stand was a table covered in black cloth with a till on it and two people sitting behind it. I initially didn't see it amongst the crowd that was walking up the stairs.

No barriers, just two staff at the exit, which again, I didn't see amongst the crowd, which is the reason I thought I would be alright to buy the ticket on the return journey, as I didn't think tickets were being checked.
 

Ferret

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Hoping this will be the case, but people in other threads haven't made the same daft comments as I did, so was unsure about it.
Shouldn't make a great deal of difference to be honest - ultimately it's at the discretion of LM's Prosecution Team, and I've known people do far worse than you and manage to settle out of Court.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I hesitate in offering assistance to this request.
I have never had any problems on the train before and am a regular user, . . . .
That is a very different statement from what would be asked for, and it has been quite specifically stated and offered, without any prompting.
(Some of us might have said that we never travelled without being able to produce a valid ticket when requested. That is not the same as travelling without a valid ticket.)

There is a vital distiction to be made between a crime that has not been detected, and a crime that has not been committed.

I may be willing to assist if that distinction can evidentially be clarified.
 

Mr Spock

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It was the exit onto Stephenson Street, which I came out of as it seems to be the quickest way to the ICC, where I was working. The ticket stand was a table covered in black cloth with a till on it and two people sitting behind it. I initially didn't see it amongst the crowd that was walking up the stairs.

No barriers, just two staff at the exit, which again, I didn't see amongst the crowd, which is the reason I thought I would be alright to buy the ticket on the return journey, as I didn't think tickets were being checked.
As a regular traveller through New Street that "ticket stand" is always there and if you travelled there often then there is no way you would not know about it.
 

Dan4655

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I hesitate in offering assistance to this request.That is a very different statement from what would be asked for, and it has been quite specifically stated and offered, without any prompting.
(Some of us might have said that we never travelled without being able to produce a valid ticket when requested. That is not the same as travelling without a valid ticket.)

There is a vital distiction to be made between a crime that has not been detected, and a crime that has not been committed.

I may be willing to assist if that distinction can evidentially be clarified.
I do apologise for the lack of clarity. Since arriving at university in October, I have used the train about once a week on average, mainly to go to Wolverhampton. Over the past couple of months, I have picked up temporary work in Birmingham, so this average will have increased. I have a drawer containing a range of my tickets dating back to January.

I normally travel from Canley and if the ticket station is open, will purchase my ticket before travelling. Otherwise, I will buy a permit to travel ticket, which I will exchange for a ticket on the train or at the destination. If the permit to travel machine is out of order, I either buy a ticket on the train, or at the destination station.

It is not in my nature to steal and I am dissapointed in myself for this one incident where I was panicking, not aided by the fact that my head wasn't in a particularly good place at the time due to lack of sleep and stressing over exams that were less than a week away, and thought I could pay for my ticket on the way back in order to get to work on time. This was a regretable lack of calm and clear thinking, not a deliberate attempt to deceive and abuse the railway company.

As a regular traveller through New Street that "ticket stand" is always there and if you travelled there often then there is no way you would not know about it.
I am afraid I do not use this exit often, as I do not work at the ICC very much. If working in Birmingham, I typically only need to go to Birmingham International. I have previously used this exit without noticing a ticket stand and did not realise that it was always there. In all likelihood, I have probably not noticed the stand in these occurences due to the fact that I have been able to buy a ticket previously and hence have not been looking or taking note of it.

I received the letter at my university address this morning, although I have been working all day so have not had chance to post it here until now. It reads as follows:

Dear Mr. ***,

On **th May 2012, a person giving the above name and address was questioned by a member of staff with regard to an alleged incident on London Midland Railway. This matter has been provisionally authorised for prosecution.

Before I proceed further, I invite you to respond by completing in full the bottom section of this letter, making any comments about the incident on the reverse, and send it to the above address within seven days.

Failure to respond will lead to the matter being progressed without further notification.


Although the letter says seven days, my Dad has phoned London Midland to explain to them that he has had to send the letter to my university address (which I originally gave them, but they could not verify, as I live on campus, so searching for the university address on a database would probably come up with the Post Room address), and they have kindly extended the deadline for reply by a couple of weeks to allow for this.

Whilst I would like to reply as soon as possible, I would greatly appreciate some guidance as to how to go about doing so. Should I include my letter of apology and offer of an out of court settlement on the back of the form, or type a separate letter for these and enclose it with the form, leaving only the details of the incident on the form?
 

Dan4655

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Hi,

Just posting to update you all on the situation. I sent a letter to London Midland explaining the incident and apologising profusely. They were happy to settle for a £20 fine. Thank you very much to all who responded and helped me out.

I have to say that I am massively relieved about this after reading some of the other threads and possible punishments. I hope that I can use this experience to help calm and assure others who are unfortunate enough to make similar mistakes and end up in the position I have been in.

Thanks again,
Dan
 

bb21

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Thank you for coming back and updating us on the outcome. Glad that you managed to sort it out with minimum amount of fuss.

I think you will agree that you were very lucky to have got away with a penalty of only £20, and I am sure that you will be more careful in the future.
 

Dan4655

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Thank you for coming back and updating us on the outcome. Glad that you managed to sort it out with minimum amount of fuss.

I think you will agree that you were very lucky to have got away with a penalty of only £20, and I am sure that you will be more careful in the future.
Definitely so. I understand that this has been a slap on the wrist compared to the sort of fine I was expecting and am buying a season ticket for the next three months as I have picked up a summer job in Birmingham, so will have to be travelling in every day. Just want to ensure I don't have to go through this panic again.
 

yorkie

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It's not actually a fine, it's simply an out of court settlement, and by far the lowest I've seen. A fine would have been far higher, so I'm glad you've sorted it out, and thanks for letting us know the outcome :)
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . and by far the lowest I've seen.
Me too.

I'm very pleased for you, and my surprise at the low value of settlement simply leads me to suspect that LM realised that there was some defect in their own evidence. But we'll probably never know!

(I just mention this to avoid any other passenger caught out having the knowledge from this incident that its only likely to cost them £20!)
 
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