Summoned to a court for 'evading fare'. Help?

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shino

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I am writing to you today on behalf of my sister. She normally pays for a monthly travelcard (Oyster, we have documentation to prove this) but on this particular occasion she went onto the train believing she had the weekly (non-oyster) travelcard she had purchased a few days prior. The turnstiles were open on this so she didn't need to attempt to get her card out. It was only on board the train when she was approached by the inspector that she realised she did not have her card with her. She assumed she either lost it or forgot it at home.

She was given a penalty on the spot, but she could not pay as she had no means to do so. Some time later she received a letter where by (to the best of my memory) it only offered a summary of the events and asked her to write on the back of the letter to confirm the events. She did so, and we had hoped they would just send her a fine to pay.

Yesterday, she instead was sent a court summons charged with breach of S.5(3)(a) of the Regulations of Railyways Act 1889 in addition to pay a fine of £125.

This is the first offence she has ever committed and I intend to write a plea letter to the Prosecutors office to ask for leniency in the form of an out of court settlement to prevent her getting, I feel, an unwarranted criminal conviction.

Is there anything more that can be done? She is more than willing to pay whatever cost in order to avoid having a criminal record. My question is, will such a conviction appear on a CRB? It seems very minor. If she accepts the £125 fine and pleads guilty, I assume that means she gets a record as well?

Thank you for taking the time to read this
 
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Mike395

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Yes, if the conviction under the RoRA is successful (which I believe it would be in this case), it would show on a CRB etc.

However, I think, if this is your sister's first offence, a well-written letter, with an offer to pay a considerable fee (others will advise you on what this should be), should mean that the case does not reach court.

Which TOC is it that is prosecuting?
 

shino

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Yes, if the conviction under the RoRA is successful (which I believe it would be in this case), it would show on a CRB etc.

However, I think, if this is your sister's first offence, a well-written letter, with an offer to pay a considerable fee (others will advise you on what this should be), should mean that the case does not reach court.

Which TOC is it that is prosecuting?

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this abbreviation?

What I'm curious about is why was she not offered the chance to pay for the penalty via a letter? It seems vindictive and disproportionate to effectively plaster someone with a criminal record because they could not pay the fare there and then at the station. The TFL website mentions for rail there is a 21 day period where you can pay the fine.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14436.aspx

Thank you for your response
 
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Ferret

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Yesterday, she instead was sent a court summons charged with breach of S.5(3)(a) of the Regulations of Railyways Act 1889 in addition to pay a fine of £125.

This part makes no sense. You can't be fined just after being charged - after having been convicted maybe! Can you clarify?
 

button_boxer

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TOC stands for Train Operating Company. Since you mentioned Oyster I presume it'll be one of First Capital Connect, Southern, Southeastern or South West Trains.
 

ralphchadkirk

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RoRA is the abbreviation for the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. It creates a number of offences in relation to fares. Section 5(3)(a) makes it an offence to travel on the Railway without having paid the fare required with the intent to avoid paying thereof. On a simplistic scale of "seriousness" it is around the middle, with a Byelaw 18 prosecution being the least serious and a prosecution under the Fraud Act (reserved for prolific and high value evaders) being the most serious.
The s5 prosecution will appear on a CRB check, and is what's known as a dishonesty offence which means it will make it more difficult (although not impossible) to get jobs where you would be in a position of trust, or working with vulnerable groups.

EDIT: Oh. I see you were asking about 'TOC'... :oops:
 

Asian Demon

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I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with this abbreviation?

What I'm curious about is why was she not offered the chance to pay for the penalty via a letter? It seems vindictive and disproportionate to effectively plaster someone with a criminal record because they could not pay the fare there and then at the station. The TFL website mentions for rail there is a 21 day period where you can pay the fine.

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14436.aspx

Thank you for your response

TOC = Train operating company

The simple state of the matter is more to do with a person possessing a ticket to travel prior to boarding the service. If she did not have money on her to even part pay the penalty fare, then there is no way she would have had the means to pay for a ticket in the first place. It sounds as if a MG11 witness statement was done after no payment was offered towards a penalty fare.

As for paying for the penalty at a later date, this can be done but usually some form of part payment is wanted by an inspector for a minimum of the anytime single/anytime single day ticket cost. If Nil is offered, then some may see that as intention to avoid payment.
 

shino

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This part makes no sense. You can't be fined just after being charged - after having been convicted maybe! Can you clarify?

My mistake. If she is convicted she will be fined.

TOC stands for Train Operating Company. Since you mentioned Oyster I presume it'll be one of First Capital Connect, Southern, Southeastern or South West Trains.

I do not know. She was going from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction. On the letter, the Prosector's Office is registered to London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. Are they a separate entity? I don't know.

TOC = Train operating company

The simple state of the matter is more to do with a person possessing a ticket to travel prior to boarding the service. If she did not have money on her to even part pay the penalty fare, then there is no way she would have had the means to pay for a ticket in the first place. It sounds as if a MG11 witness statement was done after no payment was offered towards a penalty fare.

As for paying for the penalty at a later date, this can be done but usually some form of part payment is wanted by an inspector for a minimum of the anytime single/anytime single day ticket cost. If Nil is offered, then some may see that as intention to avoid payment.

That isn't reasonable at all, surely, as having no means to pay surely cannot equate to an unwillingness to pay. This law is based on the sole presumption that members of the public will always have some form of money on them.

What we have here is the logic that if you do not have a ticket on you for whatever reason, and do not have the means to pay the penalty fine there and then, then you will be convicted as a criminal - even if you merely lost your ticket. Genuine mistakes are not taken into account?


RoRA is the abbreviation for the Regulation of Railways Act 1889. It creates a number of offences in relation to fares. Section 5(3)(a) makes it an offence to travel on the Railway without having paid the fare required with the intent to avoid paying thereof. On a simplistic scale of "seriousness" it is around the middle, with a Byelaw 18 prosecution being the least serious and a prosecution under the Fraud Act (reserved for prolific and high value evaders) being the most serious.
The s5 prosecution will appear on a CRB check, and is what's known as a dishonesty offence which means it will make it more difficult (although not impossible) to get jobs where you would be in a position of trust, or working with vulnerable groups.

EDIT: Oh. I see you were asking about 'TOC'... :oops:

She is a trainee nurse. This is going to ruin her career before it even begins. Utterly ridiculous. Can you provide a source that verifies this please?
 
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6Gman

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That isn't reasonable at all, surely, as having no means to pay surely cannot equate to an unwillingness to pay. This law is based on the sole presumption that members of the public will always have some form of money on them.

Isn't it a little unusual for a person to travel without any money (or other means) on them?
 

yorkie

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She was given a penalty on the spot, but she could not pay as she had no means to do so.
She was caught without a valid ticket on a train that has a Penalty Fares policy, which means it is compulsory to purchase a ticket before boarding and carry it with you at all times. A Penalty Fare is a charge made when an inspector believes a genuine mistake has been made. The Penalty Fare does not have to be paid immediately, but the fare that was due does.

If the customer is not in possession of a ticket they will be charged the fare, and if they are unable to pay the fare, and unable to demonstrate they ever paid a fare, then a prosecution is inevitable, and would likely succeed.
Some time later she received a letter where by (to the best of my memory) it only offered a summary of the events and asked her to write on the back of the letter to confirm the events. She did so, and we had hoped they would just send her a fine to pay.
The Train Company cannot send her a fine, only a Court can do that. If she is happy to receive a fine then she can simply plead guilty and does not need to attend court. However, I'd be rather more worried about the criminal record than the fine (depending on her job).

Yesterday, she instead was sent a court summons charged with breach of S.5(3)(a) of the Regulations of Railyways Act 1889 in addition to pay a fine of £125.
Can you check this, as that doesn't make sense to me.

The fine would be considerably more than £125 and would be for a Court to decide, if she either pleads guilty or is found guilty.
This is the first offence she has ever committed and I intend to write a plea letter to the Prosecutors office to ask for leniency in the form of an out of court settlement to prevent her getting, I feel, an unwarranted criminal conviction.
Yes, that would be a good idea.
Is there anything more that can be done? She is more than willing to pay whatever cost in order to avoid having a criminal record. My question is, will such a conviction appear on a CRB?
In this case, yes it would.
It seems very minor.
That would be for the employer to decide! It would have to be declared on interview, as if it wasn't and they later found out when the CRB came through, the employer may not be happy. If it is declared, then the employer may or may not wish to employ someone else. It would depend on the job, the employer and whatever factors were applicable to that job at that time.
If she accepts the £125 fine and pleads guilty, I assume that means she gets a record as well?

Thank you for taking the time to read this
If she pleads guilty, then she will receive a fine and a criminal record, that is what happens when you plead guilty. The fine will be reduced for a guilty plea. I have no idea where this £125 figure has come from, it doesn't make sense to me.

I do not know. She was going from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction. On the letter, the Prosector's Office is registered to London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. Are they a separate entity? I don't know.
Yes, LO is a TOC, for which the full legal name is London Overground Rail Opetations Limited, and is overseen by TfL.


That isn't reasonable at all, surely, as having no means to pay surely cannot equate to an unwillingness to pay. This law is based on the sole presumption that members of the public will always have some form of money on them.
Unfortunately, I think you'll find that it can.
What we have here is the logic that if you do not have a ticket on you for whatever reason, and do not have the means to pay...
Then you can be found guilty.
the penalty fine there and then
It's not a penalty fine.
A penalty fare is simply a charge that a Train Company is allowed to make under the Penalty Fare Regulations and Rules. It is not a fine and anyone who is charged one is not being accused of avoiding, or attempting to avoid, paying his or her fare.

You will be requested to pay the full amount by the authorised collector at the time the penalty fare is charged. If you do not, you will be expected to make a minimum payment equal to the full single fare that you would have had to pay for your journey if penalty fare rules did not apply.
(My bold, but the wording is from the now-defunct National Express East Anglia's Penalty Fare leaflet, as this is well-worded and makes the situation clear, to avoid confusion).

then you will be convicted as a criminal - even if you merely lost your ticket.
Has she lost her ticket? If so, is there any evidence that the ticket was purchased? If so, present the evidence.
Genuine mistakes are not taken into account?
If a genuine mistake is made, a Penalty Fare will be charged. However if a passenger never bought a ticket and has no means to buy a ticket, it is unlikely that the Train Company will accept this as a "genuine mistake".


She is a trainee nurse. This is going to ruin her career before it even begins. Utterly ridiculous.
In that case she needs to settle out of court.
Can you provide a source that verifies this please?

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/52-53/57
5 Penalty for avoiding payment of fare.
(1)Every passenger by a railway shall, on request by an officer or servant of a railway company, either produce, and if so requested deliver up, a ticket showing that his fare is paid, or pay his fare from the place whence he started, or give the officer or servant his name and address; and in case of default shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [F4level 1 on the standard scale][F5[F6level 2 on the standard scale]].
(2)If a passenger having failed either to produce, or if requested to deliver up, a ticket showing that his fare is paid, or to pay his fare, refuses [F7or fails] on request by an officer or servant of a railway company, to give his name and address, any officer of the company F8. . . may detain him until he can be conveniently brought before some justice or otherwise discharged by due course of law.

(3)If any person—
(a)Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof; or
(b)Having paid his fare for a certain distance, knowingly and wilfully proceeds by train beyond that distance without previously paying the additional fare for the additional distance, and with intent to avoid payment thereof; or
(c)Having failed to pay his fare, gives in reply to a request by an officer of a railway company a false name or address,
he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding [F9level 2 on the standard scale][F5[F10level 3 on the standard scale]], or, in the case of a second or subsequent offence, either to a fine not exceeding [F9level 2 on the standard scale][F5[F10level 3 on the standard scale]], or in the discretion of the court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding [F11three months].

(4)The liability of an offender to punishment under this section shall not prejudice the recovery of any fare payable by him.
[F12(5)In this section—
(a)“railway company” includes an operator of a train, and
(b)“operator”, in relation to a train, means the person having the management of that train for the time being.]
Out of interest, did she really make this journey without any money or any credit/debit cards at all? If so, that's most unfortunate.
 

Ferret

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That isn't reasonable at all, surely, as having no means to pay surely cannot equate to an unwillingness to pay. This law is based on the sole presumption that members of the public will always have some form of money on them.

That is exactly it! If you have no money to pay your fare and you are on board a train, then that is seen as intent to avoid paying - after all, if you have no money or cards then exactly how in the name of sanity are you planning on paying your fare?

So, assuming that your sister had no money or other means to pay on her person, that'll be a very simple case for a Magistrate to decide on. She'll have to attempt to settle this one out of Court by making a reasonable offer to cover both the fare due and the admin costs of the Train Company, while making a suitable apology and a promise not to do it again. Others will be able to assist by proof-reading such a letter I am sure.
 

shino

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She has sent me this photo of one of the documents. It was the only document that had a reference to any potential fine.


She'll have to attempt to settle this one out of Court by making a reasonable offer to cover both the fare due and the admin costs of the Train Company, while making a suitable apology and a promise not to do it again. Others will be able to assist by proof-reading such a letter I am sure.

I will be very grateful for that. Can anyone who is willing to proof read such a letter PM me please, preferably with your email address so you can get notification of my message without having to be logged on to this forum?
 
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shino

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Out of interest, did she really make this journey without any money or any credit/debit cards at all? If so, that's most unfortunate.

Yes, this is truly tragic. This is an actual genuine case here otherwise I wouldn't have bothered with all this. I'm sorry, but what I was referring to in regards to 'source' was when ralphchadkirk said the following

The s5 prosecution will appear on a CRB check, and is what's known as a dishonesty offence which means it will make it more difficult (although not impossible) to get jobs where you would be in a position of trust, or working with vulnerable groups.
:

Whilst your cited information was interesting, I don't think it pertained to this remark about it being classed as a 'dishonesty' making it hard for a nurse like her to find employment? Or am I reading it wrong?
 

MikeWh

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Isn't it a little unusual for a person to travel without any money (or other means) on them?

Not at all. I frequently travel to football matches with just my rail ticket and football season ticket. If anything unsavoury happens they won't get away with much.

Back to the OP:

Reading between the lines I would say that there is a fair chance that LOROL (who operate the line she was travelling on) are offering to settle out of court for £125. I'm not 100%, and I'm not a lawyer, but I have seen that happen before recently. If that is the case then all your sister needs to do is respond with payment and that will be the end of the matter. It is very unusual for first offenders to be taken to court if they are sorry and pay the TOCs admin costs (which is what the £125 will be for).

To be certain that that is what is being offered, can you possibly post again with the exact wording. Then we can clarify what is happening.

From what you've said so far your sister has travelled without the means to pay at least the actual fare due. This would succeed if taken to court. The court would then impose a fine and register the criminal record. Neither of those will happen if she settles before a court hearing.
 

34D

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She has sent me this photo of one of the documents. It was the only document that had a reference to any potential fine.

Ah, so the £125 is costs. That makes sense.

I think you were a little inaccurate in your opening post. I understood that the travelcard was left at home, yet she handed over her oystercard (which wasn't touched in).

Is it correct therefore to say that she didn't have a valid ticket (whether left at home or otherwise)?
 

ralphchadkirk

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If she's a trainee nurse then I strongly suggest you settle out of court. I can't comment on nursing specifically but a dishonesty offence will certainly count you out of, or make it very difficult to get, healthcare jobs.
 

yorkie

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Thanks, though it does raise more questions than it answers.

I will answer your question about the £125 being mistaken for a "fine". The fare is still outstanding, which is £4.30, in addition there are £125 costs. The fine is not specified, as it would be decided by a Court (though the legislation above can be used to determine the maximum amount) and will also be in addition to the fare and costs.

Obviously, if you settle out of court, you will as a minimum need to pay the fare due, and their costs, (and perhaps more). I am unable to say how likely it is that such an offer will be accepted, but it is certainly worth trying. Ensure the letter is apologetic and concise.

Some questions (though you may not wish to answer them, if the answers are incriminating)

1) Was Clapham Jn the actual origin of her overall journey, if so which entrance did she use? I am surprised the gateline was open at that time!

2) How did her balance reach -£4.00? To be honest, that really does not look good at all in my view (but IANAL)

3) Does she have proof of purchase of a paper Travelcard, has she found the Travelcard since the incident, is it linked to a Photocard and does she have a Photocard clearly displaying her photo and in her name?

Whilst your cited information was interesting, I don't think it pertained to this remark about it being classed as a 'dishonesty' making it hard for a nurse like her to find employment? Or am I reading it wrong?
I am not a legal expert, but this page may help:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/road_traffic_offences_transport_offences/#fare
Fare Evasion

This is the principal form of dishonesty to affect public transport.
The above suggests it is a "dishonest" offence, though this is perhaps contradicted by:
Both section 5 and section 103(a) are summary only offences. "Intent to avoid payment" in section 5 does not mean a dishonest intent, but an intent to avoid payment of the sum actually due.
But I'm not in any way a legal expert and not qualified to interpret that. Ralphchadkirk and Ferret are more knowledgeable in this area than me, but the ultimate source of knowledge on such matters on this forum is DaveNewcastle.

In any case, whether it counts as a "dishonest" offence or not, such a conviction is recordable and will appear on a CRB check.

I would, therefore, urge you to settle out of court. She will need to be extremely careful in future, as they will not settle out of court twice!
 
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Ferret

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She has sent me this photo of one of the documents. It was the only document that had a reference to any potential fine.

Thanks for that image, it pretty much confirms what I thought. Did she mention this forgotten travelcard in the Interview? There seems to be no mention of it on that piece of correspondance.
 

ralphchadkirk

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Whilst your cited information was interesting, I don't think it pertained to this remark about it being classed as a 'dishonesty' making it hard for a nurse like her to find employment? Or am I reading it wrong?

It's a dishonesty offence simply because honest people generally aren't convicted of doing and intending fare evasion. Dishonesty doesn't need to be proven as part of the offence (unlike Fraud, or Theft) but universities and employers will take a dim view of it especially in healthcare positions where you are potentially dealing autonomously with controlled drugs for example.

As I said, it isn't the final line. Universities and employers may show leniency if the specifics of the offence and subsequent conviction are explained but a conviction for fare evasion will not help.
 

LE Greys

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Isn't it a little unusual for a person to travel without any money (or other means) on them?

The most obvious reason would be if someone had had their wallet/purse/handbag/whatever nicked, complete with money, cards and tickets. I've known people who've had that happen to them, it can be most inconvenient and distressing, especially if they don't realise until an RPI appears.
 

shino

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Thanks, though it does raise more questions than it answers.

I will answer your question about the £125 being mistaken for a "fine". The fare is still outstanding, which is £4.30, in addition there are £125 costs. The fine is not specified, as it would be decided by a Court (though the legislation above can be used to determine the maximum amount) and will also be in addition to the fare and costs.

Obviously, if you settle out of court, you will as a minimum need to pay the fare due, and their costs, (and perhaps more). I am unable to say how likely it is that such an offer will be accepted, but it is certainly worth trying. Ensure the letter is apologetic and concise.

Some questions (though you may not wish to answer them, if the answers are incriminating)

1) How did she get through the gateline at Clapham Jn? Was Clapham Jn the actual origin of her overall journey, if so which entrance did she use? I am surprised the gateline was open at that time!

2) How did her balance reach -£4.00? To be honest, that really does not look good at all in my view (but IANAL).

1. Sometimes turnstiles are open during particular periods of the day/evening on many stations. I can confirm this and I'm sure other frequent users of railway stations in London can as well. She explained that it was open on this particular day. Had it been closed, she would have attempted to take out her card and realised she did not have it with her. Yes, her point of entry was Clapham Junction.

2. She explains that it relates back to a previous journey where she was headed to London Bridge. She mistook the Zone area to be 2 rather than 1, and so when she arrived at London Bridge and the turnstiles did not open for her, she attempted to top up the Oyster with some credit. I have no idea how this works as I don't really use Oyster, but she tells me she put a few pounds in and despite the turnstiles opening for her, it left a minus. I've never seen a minus. What does it signify?

Thanks for that image, it pretty much confirms what I thought. Did she mention this forgotten travelcard in the Interview? There seems to be no mention of it on that piece of correspondance.

Naturally, I don't want to display every piece of the document but in the interview correspondence, it is recorded that she believed she left it at home. During that moment when she had realised it was not on her, there were only two possibilities in her mind; (a) she dropped it en route to the station or (b) left it at home. On the latter suggestion is recorded
 
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yorkie

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The most obvious reason would be if someone had had their wallet/purse/handbag/whatever nicked, complete with money, cards and tickets. I've known people who've had that happen to them, it can be most inconvenient and distressing, especially if they don't realise until an RPI appears.
Yes, that can happen to anyone, but why would such a person then be able to present an Oyster card? (Though presenting an Oyster card that had not been validated and had a negative balance would seem to be an incredibly bad move anyway!) It's not applicable to this particular case. If this was alleged to have happened, then the advice given would be rather different.
 

shino

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Would anyone with experience be willing to proof read a letter to be sent to the Prosecutors Office? I don't think I have a PM inbox. Ideally I would prefer if we did this via email.

Thank you
 

yorkie

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2. She explains that it relates back to a previous journey where she was headed to London Bridge. She mistook the Zone area to be 2 rather than 1, and so when she arrived at London Bridge and the turnstiles did not open for her, she attempted to top up the Oyster with some credit. I have no idea how this works as I don't really use Oyster, but she tells me she put a few pounds in and despite the turnstiles opening for her, it left a minus. I've never seen a minus. What does it signify?
Had she touched in at Clapham Jn?

If so, the charge would have been quite small and not left such a large negative balance, so that wouldn't entirely explain it.

If not, then she would have been charged a maximum fare at London Bridge, this situation could easily be avoided by touching in & out correctly at all times. She was liable to a Penalty Fare or possible prosecution on that previous journey.

A negative balance effectively means that she already owed the Railway money!

If she topped up her Oyster card after this maximum fare was charged, then the balance would not have remained negative. So, clearly, this is not the whole story, though she may simply be confused.

Edit: in fact, just leave it there, this matter will not be of any assistance to her case.

But make sure she familiarises herself with Oyster, so she does not get caught out in future. If she does the following she will never experience a problem:

1) Set up and Activate auto-topup

2) Always touch in and out (even when gatelines are open) - not always essential but if this is not done and she gets confused about Zones it can lead to problems

3) Regularly check Oyster account online to keep an eye on any charges made

4) If bank details change, ensure auto-topup is updated as appropriate.

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Would anyone with experience be willing to proof read a letter to be sent to the Prosecutors Office? I don't think I have a PM inbox. Ideally I would prefer if we did this via email.

Thank you
Yes, you can PM me. You will have the ability to send PMs very shortly if you don't have it already.
 

lyndhurst25

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Shino,

can I ask why, when she realised that she didn't have her 7-day paper Travelcard, that she handed over her Oystercard? The fact that it hadn't been touched in and had a negative balance on it seems to be what's landed her in trouble. Did she tell the ticket inspector that she'd lost her Travelcard and has the lost paper Travelcard subsequently been found?

I can understand her not having money on her - I never take any into where I work: it's a den of thieves!
 

SussexMan

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I....but on this particular occasion she went onto the train believing she had the weekly (non-oyster) travelcard she had purchased a few days prior.


3) Does she have proof of purchase of a paper Travelcard, has she found the Travelcard since the incident, is it linked to a Photocard and does she have a Photocard clearly displaying her photo and in her name?

Shino. Yorkie asked three specific questions and you answered the first two. Is there a reason why you didn't answer the third question? I would have thought it was quite an important question. I would have thought it might be quite helpful if she could show she did have a valid ticket, albeit she didn't have it with her. If it was bought by a debit/credit card that she can link to the value of the ticket that would then link it to her and be even more helpful even though the offence was committed as she didn't have the ticket with her.
 

yorkie

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Shino. Yorkie asked three specific questions and you answered the first two. Is there a reason why you didn't answer the third question?
To be fair I added the 3rd later and he was typing his response as I posted it.

Also, the OP is under absolutely no obligation to answer any questions and I would encourage anyone not to answer any questions if it is felt that providing answers may incriminate.

(If the answer to any part of question 3 is "no" then I would not mention the Travelcard at all in any defence! If the answer to all aspects is "yes" then it is quite possible that this might be usable as a defence against a Regulation of Railways Act offence, but proper legal advice would need to be sought and the cost of defending such a case could be prohibitive, but IANAL!)
 

shino

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Shino,

can I ask why, when she realised that she didn't have her 7-day paper Travelcard, that she handed over her Oystercard? The fact that it hadn't been touched in and had a negative balance on it seems to be what's landed her in trouble. Did she tell the ticket inspector that she'd lost her Travelcard and has the lost paper Travelcard subsequently been found?

I can understand her not having money on her - I never take any into where I work: it's a den of thieves!

This is what she has told me. This is how she generally pays for her tickets.

She has an 18+ Student Oyster Card. She goes to the train station to a customer service representative (or ticket master I suppose, they often stand next to the turnstiles). She presents her 18+ card and they tell her they don't top up Oysters themselves so instead they give her a ticket with the 18+ student discount using the Oyster ID number; in effect she is using the Oyster in the transaction process but not to go through the turnstiles; she uses a ticket for that.

As she had lost her weekly travel card and wanted to prove that she had made such a purchase, she asked the inspector to scan her Oyster hoping it would display that transaction. Instead, what it showed was the minus account balance.

Had she touched in at Clapham Jn?

If so, the charge would have been quite small and not left such a large negative balance, so that wouldn't entirely explain it.

If not, then she would have been charged a maximum fare at London Bridge, this situation could easily be avoided by touching in & out correctly at all times. She was liable to a Penalty Fare or possible prosecution on that previous journey.

A negative balance effectively means that she already owed the Railway money!

If she topped up her Oyster card after this maximum fare was charged, then the balance would not have remained negative. So, clearly, this is not the whole story, though she may simply be confused.

Edit: in fact, just leave it there, this matter will not be of any assistance to her case.

But make sure she familiarises herself with Oyster, so she does not get caught out in future. If she does the following she will never experience a problem:

1) Set up and Activate auto-topup

2) Always touch in and out (even when gatelines are open) - not always essential but if this is not done and she gets confused about Zones it can lead to problems

3) Regularly check Oyster account online to keep an eye on any charges made

4) If bank details change, ensure auto-topup is updated as appropriate.

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

Yes, you can PM me. You will have the ability to send PMs very shortly if you don't have it already.

You'll probably need to read my above answer to suit as a context for the following.

She arrives at London Bridge using her ticket. When she realised she purchased the wrong Zone area, she realised it was an opportunity to use her Oyster to top-up. This was the first time using it during this journey, she had not touched in or out anywhere else. She assumed the price would be a few pounds, so topped that in. The turnstiles opened. I have no idea how this minus system works but I presume it acted as a loan by allowing her to go through the turnstiles by paying for some of the fare? I asked her if she was then aware of the minus balance. She says yes. I asked her why she did not pay the remaining balance. She reasons that because she rarely if ever uses the Oyster through turnstiles, it had passed her mind to ever top up the remaining balance.

Sigh.

This is significant. As you say, she already owed them money and so the narrative I was going to take that she is a first time offender has gone out of the window. Having said that, I do believe these were genuine mistakes on her part. But I have no idea how to approach this letter at all now :(

Is such a letter still worth it? I have little hope it'll be successful
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
3) Does she have proof of purchase of a paper Travelcard, has she found the Travelcard since the incident, is it linked to a Photocard and does she have a Photocard clearly displaying her photo and in her name?

This is what we've been pursuing all day. One lady at Clapham Junction was nice enough to help and provided us with a letter that documents her monthly travel cards for several months (three consecutively) ending in early March. That card would have expired on the first week of April. The second week into April, she decided to purchase a weekly travel card she tells me. Unfortunately, getting a record of weekly travel cards is extremely difficult; TFL told me on the phone today their systems only go back 8 weeks from the date of enquiry and that to check further back is "very expensive and rarely done for individuals".

As she explains it, every purchase she makes with a discount is ultimately related to her Oyster ID, which does have her name and Photo. Like I've said, we did get documentation for her monthly purchases. Weekly is close to impossible but I will persist with that tomorrow
 
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yorkie

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Yes, the letter is still worth it, don't worry how you word it, I am happy to proof read it. I have heard about these discounted Oyster cards, she certainly has got very confused! She can get them at certain stations but not others, where as you say a paper ticket would be issued instead. I'd recommend getting them on Oyster and ensuring there is PAYG balance, and always touching in & out and then if she goes out of the Zones she'd still be OK.

This site can be a great help: http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/
 

soil

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She arrives at London Bridge using her ticket. When she realised she purchased the wrong Zone area, she realised it was an opportunity to use her Oyster to top-up. This was the first time using it during this journey, she had not touched in or out anywhere else. She assumed the price would be a few pounds, so topped that in. The turnstiles opened. I have no idea how this minus system works but I presume it acted as a loan by allowing her to go through the turnstiles by paying for some of the fare? I asked her if she was then aware of the minus balance. She says yes. I asked her why she did not pay the remaining balance. She reasons that because she rarely if ever uses the Oyster through turnstiles, it had passed her mind to ever top up the remaining balance.

So she went from some unspecified station to London Bridge, and at that station entered the barrier using a paper travelcard. She arrived at London Bridge and realised that her travelcard did not cover her for that station, either before or after attempting to use the travelcard. (Perhaps it was a zone 2-6 travelcard, whereas London Bridge is zone 1) She then exited using the PAYG Oyster card. Is this correct?

What would have happened is that the PAYG Oyster says that there is no entry somewhere else, so there is no way of telling where she has come from, so she is charged a maximum fare, which I think is £7.80.

So she would have had £3.80 balance on the card, minus a £7.80 maximum fare, leaves -£4.

She has an 18+ Student Oyster Card. She goes to the train station to a customer service representative (or ticket master I suppose, they often stand next to the turnstiles). She presents her 18+ card and they tell her they don't top up Oysters themselves so instead they give her a ticket with the 18+ student discount using the Oyster ID number; in effect she is using the Oyster in the transaction process but not to go through the turnstiles; she uses a ticket for that.

As she had lost her weekly travel card and wanted to prove that she had made such a purchase, she asked the inspector to scan her Oyster hoping it would display that transaction. Instead, what it showed was the minus account balance.

Ok I don't think that would work. The 18+ Oyster Card is a form of identification giving her a discount off a paper travel card of weekly or longer duration. If she buys a paper travelcard using the Oyster Card to prove she is in full time education and therefore entitled to a discount, there would be no record of the purchase on the Oyster Card - the Oyster Card is just ID in this case, the same as my driving licence is ID when I buy a bottle of vodka, and no record is stored. The paper travelcard is essentially 'cash', and if you lose it it's gone, and it's very hard to prove you ever had one.

The question is why didn't she simply get the travelcard loaded onto the Oyster Card? That would be simpler, there would be a record online and she'd be able to get it revoked/replaced if lost. I don't see why you would want a paper travelcard when you've already got Oyster. It would be more expensive, e.g., when travelling outside her paid for zones.

As it is the only way she can prove that she had a valid ticket would be something like credit card records.

Did she pay by debit/credit card?
 
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