Overhaul to rail penalty fare appeals proposed

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Bletchleyite

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All of this is because the current PF scheme is way out of date and £20 is now too low to be a real deterrent
I'd agree. I think £80, reduced to £40 for prompt or on the spot payment, or £120 if a certain period elapses before payment. Or maybe £100-£50-£150. These are in line with parking offences. Ideally I'd say that plus the appropriate walk-up fare on top, rather than double the fare with that as a minimum, though that's a little less important.

It could then be pegged to RPI plus whatever (same as regulated fares) and increase without the need for legal stuff each time it went over a £5 or £10 threshold (as having a £42.15 PF seems silly).

Neil
 
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Antman

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They would not have been found guilty, their appeal to the ombudsman would have been rejected.

Then it's pay up or ... Oh yea, see you in court...
How many more times?

If their appeal is rejected by the ombudsman they then have the option of paying the penalty fare or contesting it in court, that is basically how parking tickets work
 

Flamingo

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How many more times?

If their appeal is rejected by the ombudsman they then have the option of paying the penalty fare or contesting it in court, that is basically how parking tickets work
Do you actually read anybody else's posts or is to too hard to see them from up there on your high horse?
 

infobleep

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Compensation?
Yes, the Company receives the fare due, as island mentioned above.
The Prosecuting Company also receive the costs award (the amount of costs claimed in bringing forward the prosecution). Arguably, these are not in the league of the costs in the High Court for convoluted disputes, and are more likely to be for a few hours work by a skilled office worker, but they do cover the actual cost in investigating and Prosecuting the incident.

But if you were suggesting that the award approved by the Courts should ever exceed the actual cost incurred, then we enter a difficult and slippery slope which quickly reaches accusations of 'profit' and eventually incentivises the monetisation of crime. Perhaps this is what you were trying to illustrate with the example which only this forum could think of: 'a routing anomaly' or more realistically, the simple 'mistakes' you mention.
The Courts will not allow a prosecutor to generate a profit from crime. I get asked to provide documentary evidence of costs by Prosecutors in anticipation of their being challenged (though sadly, criminals are frequently unable to make their repayments into Court anyway, fizzling out after a few £5 contributions).
Interesting. My thoughts came from the fact a victim charge is levied for many crimes regardless of who the victim was as I wasn't aware it went to charities.
 

LateThanNever

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Well, there's quite a lot, actually. Over 10% of the UK falls into exactly that category, where behaviour is regulated by Byelaws, specially drafted, creating strict liability criminal offences. It only seems to be on this forum that people think the railways are unique in this respect, but they're not.
They are not of course! But the fact of giving commercial companies, which the railways have become, like others, is an incident of privitisation. These special rights are unanticipated - and why, for example, one of the 'statutory' authorities (water) were eventually prevented from cutting off their non paying customers.
Do I hear that people should be deprived of water?
Or perhaps be taken to court, to try, with the rest of us, to recoup their debt? Should the railway be different?
 
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island

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Comparing an entitlement to water (without which one will die within a week) with train travel is ludicrous.
 

island

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I'm not a medical expert but when I was in the scouts they taught the survival rule of 3s, that is you can survive for around:
  • 3 weeks with no food
  • 3 days with no water
  • 3 minutes with no air
  • 3 seconds with no hope
 

Flamingo

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I'm not a medical expert but when I was in the scouts they taught the survival rule of 3s, that is you can survive for around:
  • 3 weeks with no food
  • 3 days with no water
  • 3 minutes with no air
  • 3 seconds with no hope
Except for the last one (which I think is wrong, as some posts lately have left me dispairing and with no hope for more than three seconds) that is pretty much correct.
 
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Antman

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They are not of course! But the fact of giving commercial companies, which the railways have become, like others, is an incident of privitasation. These special rights are unanticipated - and why, for example, one of the 'statutary' authourities (water) were eventually prevented from cutting off their non paying customers.
Do I hear that people should be deprived of water?
Or perhaps be taken to court, to try, with the rest of us, to recoup their debt? Should the railway be different?
Water cannot be cut off for health reasons, flushing toilets etc, obviously drinking fluids could be obtained elsewhere.

But yes I agree that train operators should have to go through the same process as water suppliers, I fail to see why they are a special case. Obviously I don't condone fare evasion but the little old lady who has got on the wrong train is far more likely to get a penalty fare than the foul mouthed yob who never pays for his travel. This is why passengers need another layer of protection in the shape of an ombudsman.
 

Bletchleyite

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Water cannot be cut off for health reasons, flushing toilets etc, obviously drinking fluids could be obtained elsewhere.
ISTR that what they can do in very extreme cases is to install a flow inhibitor, such that you get a very low flow of water, sufficient for drinking, cooking and basic washing, but not a whole lot of use for power showers, large baths, hosepipes, car washing etc.

TBH, though, I think I'd provide water supply through general taxation, as it is essential and there is no competition in its supply, nor really the feasibility for any to exist. Though I suppose that wouldn't control usage as meters do, not everyone has a meter (though I had one fitted as, as I live in a 3 bed house on my own, it saves me a fortune over water rates).

Neil
 
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Tetchytyke

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ISTR that what they can do in very extreme cases is to install a flow inhibitor, such that you get a very low flow of water, sufficient for drinking, cooking and basic washing, but not a whole lot of use for power showers, large baths, hosepipes, car washing etc.
Northumbrian Water- one of the most aggressive utility companies there is- suggested that they wanted to try this. The technology doesn't yet exist and most debt advice specialists think it is probably unlawful to use it even if it did.

I do partly agree with DaveNewcastle's point about "being careful what you wish for" in terms of the burden of proof. I think "we will take you to court" will act as a threat regardless of which court- most people don't understand the difference. But in most other areas, such as parking, it has been decriminalised; although, as if to prove DaveNewcastle's point parking charge enforcement through Northampton County Court is probably harsher than when it was a criminal matter.

I guess I'm still not comfortable with the idea of non-payment of a debt- as opposed to deliberate fraud (e.g. short-faring)- being a criminal offence. I think it creates the issues we see with Northern and FCC's over-aggressive prosecutions teams. I also think the SouthEastern £43,000 fare avoider showed a big problem with it, as SouthEastern could take his money and then the BTP could look at prosecution anyway.
 

Bletchleyite

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I guess I'm still not comfortable with the idea of non-payment of a debt- as opposed to deliberate fraud (e.g. short-faring)- being a criminal offence. I think it creates the issues we see with Northern and FCC's over-aggressive prosecutions teams. I also think the SouthEastern £43,000 fare avoider showed a big problem with it, as SouthEastern could take his money and then the BTP could look at prosecution anyway.
I think I'm broadly with you on that point - I see a big difference between simple "I'll pay if I'm asked" fare dodging, or indeed forgetting a Railcard or similar, and deliberate, calculated fraud such as dumbbelling, falsifying a ticket etc. The former I'd handle the same as failure to pay in a car park, the latter should remain a criminal offence, but probably could be prosecuted as regular fraud.

Neil
 

Antman

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Northumbrian Water- one of the most aggressive utility companies there is- suggested that they wanted to try this. The technology doesn't yet exist and most debt advice specialists think it is probably unlawful to use it even if it did.

I do partly agree with DaveNewcastle's point about "being careful what you wish for" in terms of the burden of proof. I think "we will take you to court" will act as a threat regardless of which court- most people don't understand the difference. But in most other areas, such as parking, it has been decriminalised; although, as if to prove DaveNewcastle's point parking charge enforcement through Northampton County Court is probably harsher than when it was a criminal matter.

I guess I'm still not comfortable with the idea of non-payment of a debt- as opposed to deliberate fraud (e.g. short-faring)- being a criminal offence. I think it creates the issues we see with Northern and FCC's over-aggressive prosecutions teams. I also think the SouthEastern £43,000 fare avoider showed a big problem with it, as SouthEastern could take his money and then the BTP could look at prosecution anyway.
The burden of proof always lays with the accuser. Civil court was only mentioned about non payment of penalty fares if the ombudsman found in favour of the train company, a similar system applies for non payment of parking tickets.

Was the £43,000 fare avoider the bloke who admitted to having travelled from Robertsbridge to London over a number of years without paying the correct fare? He was obviously taking the proverbial but I got the impression that South Eastern wanted to hush it up because it just highlighted how easy fare evasions is. Whilst they are handing out penalty fares like confetti the hardened fare dodgers like him are getting away with it.
 

infobleep

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Water cannot be cut off for health reasons, flushing toilets etc, obviously drinking fluids could be obtained elsewhere.

But yes I agree that train operators should have to go through the same process as water suppliers, I fail to see why they are a special case. Obviously I don't condone fare evasion but the little old lady who has got on the wrong train is far more likely to get a penalty fare than the foul mouthed yob who never pays for his travel. This is why passengers need another layer of protection in the shape of an ombudsman.
Are there stats to prove this is the lady re old lady v yob?
 

LateThanNever

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I think I'm broadly with you on that point - I see a big difference between simple "I'll pay if I'm asked" fare dodging, or indeed forgetting a Railcard or similar, and deliberate, calculated fraud such as dumbbelling, falsifying a ticket etc. The former I'd handle the same as failure to pay in a car park, the latter should remain a criminal offence, but probably could be prosecuted as regular fraud.

Neil
Wouldn't it be advantageous to the railway and to the farepaying passenger to retain the advantage of strict liability but for the railway to be required to satisfy a requirement that they were not either reckless or inconsistent in their enforcement?
To me that would require these commercial companies to get their systems straight which would help everyone everywhere with a consistent approach. Those that didn't meet the standards would receive appropriate poor publicity - I would anticipate...?
It would keep the system but improve it. Whereas wholesale change would be abhorred and probably legally challenged by private companies I suspect!
 

Flamingo

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Wouldn't it be advantageous to the railway and to the farepaying passenger to retain the advantage of strict liability but for the railway to be required to satisfy a requirement that they were not either reckless or inconsistent in their enforcement?
To me that would require these commercial companies to get their systems straight which would help everyone everywhere with a consistent approach. Those that didn't meet the standards would receive appropriate poor publicity - I would anticipate...?
It would keep the system but improve it. Whereas wholesale change would be abhorred and probably legally challenged by private companies I suspect!
So you would like the element of staff discretion (by on-train, barrier and customer-service department) removed from the system? A strict compliance with written policies and legislation.
 

Fare-Cop

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I think I'm broadly with you on that point - I see a big difference between simple "I'll pay if I'm asked" fare dodging, or indeed forgetting a Railcard or similar, and deliberate, calculated fraud such as dumbbelling, falsifying a ticket etc. The former I'd handle the same as failure to pay in a car park, the latter should remain a criminal offence, but probably could be prosecuted as regular fraud.

Neil

What about the question of deliberate, pre-meditated fare evasion, by knowingly travelling without a valid ticket, intending to accept a Penalty Fare Notice from staff if detected, but with the intention of never responding further or never paying if an appeal is rejected??

How do you propose dealing with that?

It is clear that this is a very real problem identified by many of us who are actually engaged in dealing with the very complex issues in revenue protection in many areas.

If the sanction of a criminal prosecution were removed as the final deterrent, this will continue to grow and quickly.
 
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Greenback

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If the sanction of a criminal prosecution were removed as the final deterrent, this will continue to grow and quickly.
I think you're right. As we see here frequently, people are far more concerned about a criminal record than any financial penalty. This is bound to have a deterrent fact, at least amongst those that are aware of the possibility, and I think that taking away that deterrent would not be a good move.
 

LateThanNever

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So you would like the element of staff discretion (by on-train, barrier and customer-service department) removed from the system? A strict compliance with written policies and legislation.
Personally I'd keep the discretion for the staff but the railway policies from the management would need to be clear and consistent otherwise a prosecution might fail if those policies and their execution were found wanting...
 

Flamingo

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Personally I'd keep the discretion for the staff but the railway policies from the management would need to be clear and consistent otherwise a prosecution might fail if those policies and their execution were found wanting...
No, that's not an option. Either everybody does the same, every time, without fear or favour (ie consistent) or not.

Saying "They let the other fare-Dodgers off" is not really a defence.
 

Amy Worrall

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In a section titled "Valid reasons for appealing against a penalty fare":

you didn’t get a chance to buy a ticket or permit to travel. This could be because there was a long queue and no ticket machine available, or you couldn’t use the machine because of a disability.
(The BBC cited the Citizen's Advice Bureau here.)

I realise this is only being given as a reason to appeal, but how often does "There was a long queue" work to absolve you of the penalty?
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . people are far more concerned about a criminal record than any financial penalty. This is bound to have a deterrent fact, at least amongst those that are aware of the possibility, and I think that taking away that deterrent would not be a good move.
I agree.
Such a shift would assure the rail industry of the same level of abuse as on-street parking without payment, where a strategy of playing "parking roulette" is no more honest than playing the odds in any other simple gamble, and with no more loss than from the calculated odds..
What about the question of deliberate, pre-meditated fare evasion, by knowingly travelling without a valid ticket, intending to accept a Penalty Fare Notice from staff if detected, but with the intention of never responding further or never paying if an appeal is rejected??

How do you propose dealing with that?
I agree that this is the crucial question, and that any "idea" which tinkers with the current arrangements and which doesn't fully address the question will simply shift the playground for those who are exploitative or opportunist in their wish to minimise their spending.
Personally I'd keep the discretion for the staff but the railway policies from the management would need to be clear and consistent otherwise a prosecution might fail if those policies and their execution were found wanting...
This is yet another of your 'ideas', all of which seem to be simple responses to something you wish to avoid, but which introduce other unintended consequences.
Revisions are only realistic when they embrace the full territory:-
when they are firmly rooted in coherent and consistent railway policy, custom, practice and regulations; are practical and workable in all situations across the network of stations, trains, ticket selling agents and on line systems; are lawful enforceable and defendable under challenge; are comprehesible to all parties in all situations; are compliant with fiscal policy and regulation, ECHR and other European legislation; are resilient to defects in internal systems and to external abuse; are amenable to passengers, operating companies, staff, the Department, focus groups, unions, rail users groups, and the regulator, and contribute to the viability of passenger travel on UK rail.

Your ad hoc 'ideas' seem to fall short of that standard. You could perhaps check each of your ideas against that check-list of criteria in future?

But my main challenge to this 'idea' is to point out that your concern that a prosecution might fail if "policies and their execution were found wanting". Why would that happen? We're not looking at some sort of retail consumer business! A prosecution will be judged on an evaluation of whether the evidence presented is, or is not, captured by the words of the Law.
 
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Flamingo

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In a section titled "Valid reasons for appealing against a penalty fare":



(The BBC cited the Citizen's Advice Bureau here.)

I realise this is only being given as a reason to appeal, but how often does "There was a long queue" work to absolve you of the penalty?
That is seriously bad advice, and can not be recomended either as a course of action or as an excuse. I know there are now going to be numerous posts of the "Only one train an hour" variety, but this makes no difference. It's frequently given to me as an excuse by passengers going Paddington to Reading (services every 10-15 minutes max, numerous TVM's and ticket windows) and anything like this article that suggests it's a valid reason to travel is at best wistful thinking.
 

Tetchytyke

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(The BBC cited the Citizen's Advice Bureau here.)

I realise this is only being given as a reason to appeal, but how often does "There was a long queue" work to absolve you of the penalty?
I'm disappointed in Citizens Advice there, they are usually much much better than that. It's not that they are wrong exactly, more that their wording is very poor. It may be a defence if you "couldn't" buy a ticket, but won't be if you "couldn't (be bothered)".

There are rules on queue lengths at ticket offices within the Penalty Fare Regulations. However they are not binding on the TOC (funny that) so they may as well not exist; you'd certainly be taking a risk relying on a queue length in excess of the Regulation length for an appeal. It is also true that disabled people shouldn't be charged a Penalty Fare where they could not purchase at the station due to their disability, but that is something that's within each TOC's individual disability policy and is not in the regulations.
 

Bletchleyite

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What about the question of deliberate, pre-meditated fare evasion, by knowingly travelling without a valid ticket, intending to accept a Penalty Fare Notice from staff if detected, but with the intention of never responding further or never paying if an appeal is rejected??

How do you propose dealing with that?
Well, one way is that you then take them to court and sue them for the PF and costs in processing it. However, I can see that retaining criminal prosecution *for failure to pay the PF itself* might be a sensible idea. However, unless there was clear and deliberate fraud evidenced by a ticketing irregularity (rather than the simple absence of any ticket, or simple expired but unaltered ticket/Railcard) the prosecution would not sensibly by the first line of attack.

Neil
 
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