Reported for prosecution...

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by blackmariah, 6 Jan 2020.

  1. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    Today I was stopped by what I believe to be a Revenue Protection Inspector and interviewed under caution. I was so frightened I can barely remember the conversation, but I had basically stupidly traveled on the wrong ticket - it allowed me through the barriers so I hadn't noticed that I bought on the app tickets to the wrong station, but he believed/had the theory that I was 'short changing' by purchasing a ticket for a shorter journey to get to where I really needed to be.

    This wasn't the case at all and I had genuinely made a mistake - how long until I receive a letter from their prosecutions department? I'm petrified. He had this conspiracy that I'd been doing it on multiple occasions that he verbalized and talking about checking security cameras etc., but only wrote about today (from what I remember). What am I in for? I'm so so scared.
     
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  3. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    As taken from the thread at the top of this section of the forum for people to read before posting here.

    We need to know all relevant facts in order to assist you, including, for example:
    The stations where you started & finished your journey;
    The stations where you changed trains (if applicable);
    If you presented a ticket(s), the information stated under "Ticket type", "From", "To", "Route", and any other relevant details;
    What happened in any encounter with railway staff;
    The details of any paperwork with which you were issued.
    Be careful not to post anything incriminating or personally identifying
    We need to know what outcome(s) you would consider satisfactory#

    Perhaps you could provide the above information.....
     
  4. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    I started at Bicester Village to Oxford where I had a paper ticket (single), which I later threw away. I should have bought a return from Oxford to Didcot Parkway, but accidentally bought Appleford to Didcot (where my bf is, I got mixed up so early in the morning and didn't notice). It was on the way back to Oxford from Didcot, where I was pulled up, and only had the Appleford return, and not the right ticket to get me back to Oxford.

    The train ended at Oxford, the Inspector got off with me, and we went to the waiting room to conduct the interview under caution. He wrote everything down, took my details name and address, but I was only given a business card like thing about how I'd been 'reported for prosecution' and to wait for a letter. I will pay any fine just to end this, I just don't want to go to court - it was a mistake, a genuine mistake, but he had this whole conspiracy theory.
     
  5. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Is your bf at Didcot or Appleford? How did you manage to select Appleford in the app? Do you often travel there?
    What was the whole journey? Was it all on the same day? Peak times or off-peak times?
    In other words, did you return to Bicester Village afterwards? Why did you choose to use multiple tickets?
    Where did you throw away the original ticket? Could it have been retrieved? How did you purchase it? Might there be a record of that transaction e.g. credit card statement or on CCTV?
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2020
  6. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    Appleford, and it would have just been in the list of options when when selecting train stations, so me in my sleep deprived state at 6 in the morning didn't double check and didn't think anything of it when I was able to through the barriers as I hadn't noticed my mistake. The whole journey was Bicester Village to Didcot Parkway, and was on the same day, at peak times in the morning I guess, and off-peak in the afternoon. As the inspector intervened at Oxford on my way back, which was my first alert to the situation, I had yet to travel to Bicester Village - I would have bought a ticket as usual for this, but he gave me a ticket with no value for the rest of the journey. I buy multiple tickets because I never know if I'm going straight home of to visit friends, so for felxibility.

    I threw away the ticket at work, so can't be retrieved etc. How long until I get a letter do you think? This limbo is hell.
     
  7. Any_Permitted

    Any_Permitted Member

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    Welcome to the forum, you’ve come to the right place for help. From what you’ve said:

    - You travelled from Bicester Village to Oxford, where the Chiltern Railways train would have terminated.
    - I presume you went through the barriers at Oxford to exit the station, and you threw the ticket away. Or did you remain on the platform?
    - You then bought an Appleford to Didcot return on the app. If you were NOT on the platform, how did you get through the barriers at Oxford with this ticket?

    When something like this happens the train company can take the view that the person has been short faring on multiple occasions. But relax, if you’ve done this once then GWR checking CCTV is not going to reveal anything. Can you remember what you were asked when questioned? Give yourself some time to relax, then write everything down while it is still fresh in your mind.

    The process of being reported for prosecution can seem really intimidating if you don’t know how it works, here’s what happens:

    - GWR will send you a letter. This usually takes between a couple of weeks and 3 months to arrive. The letter usually asks you to give your own version of events, or it may be an out of court settlement: they ask you to pay a certain sum of money to keep the case out of court.

    - If the letter asks you for your version of events, come back here for advice. You want to achieve the following in your reply:
    - Apologise, stating that fare dodging costs the railway a lot of money each year.
    - Tell the truth on what happened - try and be consistent with what you answered when you were questioned.
    - Ask to pay the fare due and any costs to GWR to keep the matter out of court. This is more likely to succeed if you can demonstrate that this is the first time you have done this. Do you travel to didcot regularly and have any previous tickets between oxford / Bicester and didcot. This would help convince GWR that this is a one-off.

    - In the scenario where the case ends up in court, you will likely be prosecuted under Section 5 3(a) of the Regulation of Railway Act 1889. This makes it a criminal offence to travel on the train with intent to avoid paying the correct fair. Unfortunately your actions of buying a shorter fare demonstrate this intent.

    If convicted you will get a criminal record but only for 1 year - after that it is considered spent and you don’t need to declare it. This is the WORST case outcome of this occurance - hopefully you will settle this out of court and that will be the end.
     
  8. island

    island Established Member

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    Was your ticket from Appleford to Didcot Parkway a paper ticket or an e-ticket?

    Why do you buy multiple tickets? Why not just wait until you know where you’re going?

    If you bought your ticket via an app, presumably the app account history shows it?
     
  9. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    What if they make the case that I was 'short faring' and I go to court, worst case, could I lose my job, my house, my mortgage?
     
  10. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    could be some time before you get a letter, eg weeks. There are other examples on this thread to give you an idea. People will advise you how to respond. You will probably need to show contrition, apologise, promise not to do it again, offer to pay the fare plus any administrative costs and you may be able to settle with GWR over it.

    Did you give them an accurate address and did you check they wrote it down correctly? Watch out for the letter. It's in your interest to get it and respond promptly in order to avoid court if you can.

    You may have been asked about regularly doing this because appleford to didcot vs Oxford to Didcot is not much of a saving if you were fare dodging, unless you did that regularly to save a lot more over time. Almost certainly better to buy Bicester to Didcot ticket and break journey when you need to however.

    You may not be aware, but tickets, esp peak time ones, often allow break of journey so no need to buy multiple ones in such situations as you describe (unless for example you needed to break overnight and it was a ticket only valid on day of purchase). This info may help you on the future.
     
  11. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    almost certainly no to all those things (unless you work as a ticket related member of staff on the railway perhaps....)
     
  12. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    I'm so scared this could ruin my life. If I could re-do today, I would in a heart beat, I don't think I can handle this.
     
  13. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    The important thing now is to not worry about, get some sleep if you have been up since 6am, post details on here when you hear from GWR or TIL and check for other questions here from other posters and reply clearly and honestly.

    People will happily advise you how to respond in a way that will help you limit the damage. You probably need to prepare to make a payment and it could be in the region of or over £100 however.

    Don't worry too much - and good luck. You CAN handle this don't worry, you will have worse problems in life one way or the other. By coming here you will get good advice and help from people.
     
  14. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    Thank you for being so kind. I'll pay anything just to put this behind me.
     
  15. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    . In which of these locations do you work? Oxford? I.e. did you leave the station at Oxford and if so were the barriers in operation (which would swallow the ticket) or did you use the gate?
     
  16. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Just to make the point again. You may be offered an out-of-court settlement, but if you do go to court and are fined, it is highly unlikely to have a massive impact on your life; any conviction will be spent after 12 months.

    Meanwhile, as WesternLancer has said, the tickets you were intending to buy are an expensive way to travel, as return tickets on that route arent much more than one-way fares.
     
  17. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    That depends on the time of the journeys - peak vs off-peak can be quite different.
     
  18. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    That is very, very unlikely. If you could outline your current or planned career we may be able to advise further, but a one-off ticketing offence is very, very unlikely to have an impact on 99% of jobs.
     
  19. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Get some rest - then turn your hand to replying to Gray1404 and Any Permitted's posts above especially. Make some notes of all the tickets bought, when where how what they cost etc what the type of ticket was called, what times things happened etc. get it all written down ASAP (called contemporaneous notes) so that then when you get the formal letters etc you can rely on those notes for a straight clear story.
     
  20. island

    island Established Member

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    A lot of people fear that having a criminal record could cause them to lose (or be unable to get) a job. This is very rarely the case for minor ticketing violations.
     
  21. blackmariah

    blackmariah Member

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    It was the first day back at work after the New Year, and I hadn’t slept the night before and was dazed all day. I remember having a ticket for Bicester Village to Oxford (paper), and I believe that I disposed of this (single) once I’d got to work – in regard to why I hadn’t purchased a ticket from Bicester Village to Didcot Parkway there and then is because I often forget to do this and end up buying multiple passes for the journey, due to lack of sleep.

    Of which, by the time I got to Oxford, between breaks in trains (and without going through the barriers), I went on the GWR app to purchase tickets for the rest of the journey, Oxford to Didcot Parkway. In a moment of stupidity, and without foolishly checking what I was buying, I ended up buying a return from Appleford to Didcot Parkway (as Appleford was in my drop down of options), instead of the needed Oxford to Didcot Parkway, which I can see appears convenient. I did not realise my mistake until I was stopped by the RPI later in the afternoon on the train back to Oxford from Didcot Parkway, as the ticket had indeed got me through the barriers at Didcot Parkway station in the morning, and in the afternoon the barriers were open when I walked into the station for some reason and a ticket wasn’t required, which could have been a natural time for me to realise my gross mistake.

    When talking to the RPI I admitted my mistake, apologised, and offered to purchase the correct ticket, but was not allowed to. I was also willing to purchase the last required ticket from Oxford to Bicester Village in front of him to show good will, but he instead gave me a blank ticket with no value for the journey back, of which he gave no explanation for this. During our talk he introduced himself as an RPI, asked for my details, which I gave willingly, but I have no recollection of him ever stating that this was an ‘interview under caution’ or explaining what was happening, specifically. Instead, we parted ways with him saying that he was going to write this up and submit it to the prosecutions department, but that he thought that this wasn’t the only time I’d done this, and that I had been short faring with intent. However, in the notes that he wrote, and which I signed, this theory was not mentioned, and only that day’s incident had been recorded and detailed.

    I suffer from depression and anxiety, and was stood there all the while having a full blown anxiety attack, so I am admittedly not 100% sure what was said on either side. To the point where, there is another street nearby who’s postcode gets mixed up with mine, so I ran to that house last night in case my letter goes to that house by mistake to provide my contact details, as I can’t remember which postcode I gave (both are valid), but know that I got my house number correct. I’m now starting to doubt myself about whether I have accidentally done this before out of habit and lack of sleep, as he made such a compelling case.

    Will I only be reported based on what he wrote and I signed? Or is he allowed to put forth his theory when writing it up without my knowledge? I am completely remorseful, mortified, ashamed, and just generally disappointed in myself that I have allowed myself to jeopardize my good name, my record, my job etc. and will learn from this harsh reality that I have put myself in – I take full responsibility and can only promise to be more diligent in future.
     
  22. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    As others have said: no, no and no. I would be amazed if any employer was to fire an otherwise competent employee because of a minor ticketing offence.
     
  23. some bloke

    some bloke Member

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    You could settle if they offer you the chance - meaning pay to make it go away - but if the allegation is of intent to avoid a fare, by your account you are not guilty.
    To be clear, buying a cheaper ticket is evidence that points towards guilt, but it doesn't necessarily prove you intended to avoid a fare.

    If the staff member was being scary, it may be partly because Appleford is the last station before Didcot - so, an ideal station for someone short-faring to save money.

    However, the fact that you have a connection to Appleford may make your story more believable, as it helps explain why you could have had it in mind when you chose it in the app. Was it at home that you bought the Appleford-Didcot ticket?

    The straightforward kind of case is "I'm sorry, I won't do it again, can I settle?". Where the person is innocent, it may be a bit more complicated, as denying the allegation could be seen as doubling down on a lie.

    If they write and offer a settlement, you might choose simply to pay - which wouldn't involve you admitting guilt, or anything approaching a criminal record.

    At some stage you might choose to consult a solicitor. If you have membership of a union, they may provide some free legal advice. Some bank accounts and insurance policies provide some legal advice as part of a package. Some solicitors offer a free initial consultation.

    The company could prosecute under Railway Byelaw 18, for entering a train with intent to travel, without a valid ticket. That doesn't need any intent to avoid a fare, and you're automatically guilty of that. As there is no implication of intent, it's (even?) less likely that any employer would be bothered by this.

    It's often a shock to be suspected of a criminal offence. It's a new and unfamiliar experience, but by your account all you did was not pay attention.
    https://www.railforums.co.uk/search/39068939/?q=terrified&t=post&o=date&c[node]=152+155

    Magistrates are supposed to be satisifed of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that your boyfriend lives in Appleford means that you innocently thinking of that station when buying isn't implausible. If you were wrongly convicted you could appeal, or not appeal but simply tell people the explanation. We might think a sensible employer, if they knew about this in the first place, would see that having a boyfriend in Appleford is something relevant that the magistrates should have taken into account.
     
  24. some bloke

    some bloke Member

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    As others have said, it's a good idea to write things down now as it may be some time before you are contacted (in theory it could be over six months, but that would not be usual).

    It may be sensible to write down especially any memories of what you had in mind when you bought the wrong ticket. You could start the process on the app and remind yourself of what it shows.

    If you say what kind of work you do, people may be able to advise/reassure more. If an employer or professional body is particularly concerned about minor criminal charges or convictions, that information should be in an employment contract or the professional body's website. For example, a nurse may be required to notify their professional body and the employer when they are charged. But that's very different from any idea that either would be seriously bothered by a minor conviction.
     
  25. Kilopylae

    Kilopylae Member

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    As some bloke has said, given the nature of the offence it is very likely that a settlement will be available.
     
  26. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Well done, this is useful and good post - it will serve to help as notes of what happened in due course, when you are invited to give your side of the story (when they write to you). People here can help with how to respond to that (see other thread for examples of how people help).

    Probably best to wait at least one or two weeks now to see if you get your letter. If you have not got that within a couple of weeks it may be worth you ringing GWR to say you were stopped by a RPI on x date at y place, expect to have received a letter - have not yet done so, please can they check if they have your address details correct - if that would help put your mind at rest. It's important you get the letter and respond to it (prosecutions in your absence with an erroneous address given when you were stressed will be much more work to sort out later on).

    In the meantime not much more you can do apart from:

    - Get your notes in order.
    - keep any evidence of tickets bought on line etc recently (eg save screen shots) - they may provide evidence you are NOT a regular fare dodger
    - make sure you always buy the right ticket going forwards and for next few weeks / months keep those tickets as evidence of that (if you have paper tickets and need to use a barrier ask to be let through manually so you can keep the ticket) - or obtain a receipt when you buy a paper ticket from a ticket office or ticket machine and keep that. Or consider getting a season ticket if you do the journey to work regularly etc

    Don't hesitate to come back to this forum if you need more advice.
     
  27. some bloke

    some bloke Member

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    The points directly about settlement are:
     
    Last edited: 7 Jan 2020
  28. some bloke

    some bloke Member

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    If only to put your mind at rest:

    You could contact GWR, ask for the prosecution department's address, and ask them for confirmation that they have your correct details.

    https://www.gwr.com/help-and-support/contact
     
  29. Skiddaw

    Skiddaw Member

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    OP, can't add to all the excellent advice but just wanted to send some hugs in your direction. What a horrid way to start the year. Really hope this gets sorted out easily and quickly. Honestly, it does make me cross. I know fare-dodging is a Bad Thing but I really struggle with the Spanish Inquisition manner that some staff appear to enjoy employing. Sorry but it gets my goat....
     
  30. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Welcome to the Forum.
    The Spanish Inquisition in this case appears to amount to the suggestion that the OP has been short-faring by not paying for the middle of their journey. That is a fair suspicion IMO and sufficient reason for interviewing the OP and submitting a report.
    The prosecutions department will then, we trust, discover that the OP isn't known to them
    (@ blackmariah: the report should only contain what you signs, and the RPI's suspicions are not evidence that can be used in a prosecution).
     
  31. Skiddaw

    Skiddaw Member

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    I agree an interview was warranted. However, from what the OP said, whoever conducted the interview came on pretty strongly (and strongly implied OP must be a serial offender). I know we only have OP's side of things but as OP suffers from anxiety (and from the sound of it would have been visibly highly anxious and upset during the interview) it does rather smack of unnecessary bullying tactic to my mind.

    Thanks for the welcome by the way! :smile:
     

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