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Use of the electoral roll in railway ticketing prosecutions

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Tallguy

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Moderator note: Split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/letter-from-southeastern-prosecutions-received.212419/
As i understand it, they can access data to verify ie does Mr Bloggs, with this NI number, live at this address. This is a yes or no answer, which isn't as strict under GDPR.

What they can't do is then ask, if they get a no answer, 'Who does?'
That info, excluding the NI data can be obtained from interrogating the un-redacted copy of the electoral roll, assuming the person concerned has lived at that address since Before the most recent roll enquiry was issued. Still doesn’t explain the NI number thing.....
 
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WesternLancer

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It is probably the most accurate record readily available and is cross referenced to council tax records
IIRC only in certain circs, not routinely. EG if you don't pay your council tax the council's enforcement team may check the electoral register to help with enforcement. Or the council tax team may check the electoral register in the case of a household claiming the 25% single occupancy C-Tax discount to see if it provides ready evidence that there are in fact more than 1 person in occupation (more than one not very smart person admittedly) - but general cross referencing (eg to see if the electoral register is accurate in terms of who is listed) is not common / routine as I understand it. Esp given that Council Tax section of the local council have minimal interest in all who lives at the place, just the person liable to pay the tax, and only interested in discounts if people actually claim for them.

This is based on some joint work I did to try and drive up voter registration that involved some detailed discussion with council electoral registration staff (a common refrain from people trying to vote, who then find out on election day they are not registered, is 'well my name is on the council tax bill...'), apols if this view is now out of date, or varies in different localities.

A significant reason to be on the Register of Electors is that it makes credit searches easier, and thus access to credit. A good reason not to be is if you don't want official type organisations to find you - and I would suggest people who might be tempted to evade fares may fit that latter category (I'm not suggesting in anyway that relates to this case / the OP)
 

Tallguy

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This still doesn’t explain why a TOC would want your NI number And occupation, which is irrelevant to any form of prosecution case. Many people have more than 1 job (inc me). Which occupation do I put down, the one that earns the most money, the one that I spend the most time doing? Or the one that I feel like on the day?

There are far too many companies gathering too much irrelevant data on people that they simply do not need. In the case of a TOC launching court action against a fare evader all they need is Name, Address and DOB for the summons. Their NI number and occupation is not required and therefore irrelevant.
 

randyrippley

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Something doesn't ring true here,,,,,,at one stage ( around the time of the poll tax) councils were specifically prohibited from accessing the electoral roll to verify residence, or for use in prosecutions.
There was a worry that if councils were free to do this, then electors would refuse to register. I'm not aware that anything has changed since
 

Tallguy

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Something doesn't ring true here,,,,,,at one stage ( around the time of the poll tax) councils were specifically prohibited from accessing the electoral roll to verify residence, or for use in prosecutions.
There was a worry that if councils were free to do this, then electors would refuse to register. I'm not aware that anything has changed since
In Buckinghamshire the council check the council tax single person discount against the electoral roll and state so on the discount verification form which they send out every few years. Think I have received 3 Council Tax discount verification forms in the 15 years I have lived here. Anyone can access the public version of the ER by visiting the relevant council. I believe an appointment may be required to do so at some councils.
 

Elwyn

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I have no connection with any rail company but I did at one time deal with circumstances where people were prosecuted. Astonishing as it may seem, sometimes they didn’t always tell the truth, either about their identity or the circumstances they were being investigated for.

There are a variety of searches that can be conducted to establish someone’s identity. Some through credit check companies and that may include electoral register information. That information is in the public domain and can be accessed by anyone willing to pay. In addition, there are various agreements (authorised by statute) to obtain personal information from Government bodies for the prevention of crime. Railway related crime perhaps falls within those agreements. (I don't know for certain but I am pretty sure BTP would be authorised to access that information).

In serious cases folk get arrested and interviewed in a police station, where establishing identity and address is usually critical to any subsequent release. So mostly they tend to be pretty co-operative. In less serious cases the investigation follows a non arrest route but that also involves the same requirement to establish a person’s identity and address etc.

A quick search of this board will reveal loads of cases of people whose identities have reportedly been misused in alleged travel fraud cases. The anguish this causes to innocent parties is very evident. So you can hardly blame rail prosecution teams for seeking to clarify the identities and addresses of the folk they are dealing with, to avoid this.

Perhaps we should have compulsory National Identity cards, with a requirement to carry them at all times, and to produce them to authorised officials on demand, as some countries do? Obviously not. But the counterpoint means when someone is being challenged about a potential offence, investigators have to go down a different route to gather the information they need about a suspect's identity.

Standing on your high horse arguing I don’t need to provide a certain piece of information is fine, but this needs to be thought through to the likely outcome. Is the prosecution likely to say: “Yes, what an important point. How silly of us. Let’s just abandon the case.” Or more likely: “This person is not co-operating. They don’t have to. That’s fine. No point seeking to settle out of court. Let’s just prosecute instead. And don’t forget to ask the court for an order relating to costs.” I am able to confirm that's the line that some prosecuting bodies do take.
 
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nap666

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In Buckinghamshire the council check the council tax single person discount against the electoral roll and state so on the discount verification form which they send out every few years. Think I have received 3 Council Tax discount verification forms in the 15 years I have lived here. Anyone can access the public version of the ER by visiting the relevant council. I believe an appointment may be required to do so at some councils.
Electoral Registration Officers can use any data a council holds to check the validity of an application, following a DWP identity check after an application to register, they do get NI numbers and DOB as part of application but this is not on the register that is supplied to the credit ref agencies or available for inspection.
Council Tax can only request access to the full register for crime prevention purposes, other than the annual data matching exercise done by the Audit commission, when an exercise is done to compare with Benefits, council tax and other council record's.
There are two versions of the register, full of open. Open is for sale but on average about 60% are now opted out so only appear on the full register that is only available for inspection of supplied to Credit Ref Agencies (CRA).
There have been a lot of arguments over use of the full register including the fact that the CRA only pay a token sum for the data, then repackage and sell it on at a massive profit. It is used for crime prevention so I suppose the CRA is providing the TOC with a service to check ID, you should be able to ask which company they are using to process your data. If they will not tell you maybe ask the information commissioner.
Having been involved with the setting up of the current electoral system and the discussions that went on with HMRC over the use and data protection of NI numbers, the ERO had to have a system that redacts the NINO FROM the system after 13 months from application, I would be surprised if HMRC are aware that TOC's are obtaining NINO's without the security they require councils to have on Electoral Reg applications.
 

Tallguy

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I have no connection with any rail company but I did at one time deal with circumstances where people were prosecuted. Astonishing as it may seem, sometimes they didn’t always tell the truth, either about their identity or the circumstances they were being investigated for.

There are a variety of searches that can be conducted to establish someone’s identity. Some through credit check companies and that may include electoral register information. That information is in the public domain and can be accessed by anyone willing to pay. In addition, there are various agreements (authorised by statute) to obtain personal information from Government bodies for the prevention of crime. Railway related crime perhaps falls within those agreements. (I don't know for certain but I am pretty sure BTP would be authorised to access that information).

In serious cases folk get arrested and interviewed in a police station, where establishing identity and address is usually critical to any subsequent release. So mostly they tend to be pretty co-operative. In less serious cases the investigation follows a non arrest route but that also involves the same requirement to establish a person’s identity and address etc.

A quick search of this board will reveal loads of cases of people whose identities have reportedly been misused in alleged travel fraud cases. The anguish this causes to innocent parties is very evident. So you can hardly blame rail prosecution teams for seeking to clarify the identities and addresses of the folk they are dealing with, to avoid this.

Perhaps we should have compulsory National Identity cards, with a requirement to carry them at all times, and to produce them to authorised officials on demand, as some countries do? Obviously not. But the counterpoint means when someone is being challenged about a potential offence, investigators have to go down a different route to gather the information they need about a suspect's identity.

Standing on your high horse arguing I don’t need to provide a certain piece of information is fine, but this needs to be thought through to the likely outcome. Is the prosecution likely to say: “Yes, what an important point. How silly of us. Let’s just abandon the case.” Or more likely: “This person is not co-operating. They don’t have to. That’s fine. No point seeking to settle out of court. Let’s just prosecute instead. And don’t forget to ask the court for an order relating to costs.” I am able to confirm that's the line that some prosecuting bodies do take.
Anyone who lies and gives false info when faced with fare evasion is even more of a total idiot than they were before getting caught.

I’m not on my high horse but there are too many people demanding too much irrelevant information. See another thread on here where someone gave their bank details as proof of ID even when there is no requirement to do so. I will never be caught for fare evasion because I always buy a ticket Or PTT.

I agree with your comments regarding non co-operation and how that may look to a prosecuting authority in the event of being caught for fare evasion but that doesn’t and should not alter the material fact that the TOC has no right under law to demand such information and there is no compulsion therefore to provide that information.

i will not provide information I am not required to, when I purchased my TV licence I refused to give my DOB to Capita who run the TV licensing scheme on behalf of the BBC. They argued That they required it to see if I was entitled to an age related free licence. I said I wasn’t entitled, refused to give the info and got my TV licence paying by monthly Direct Debit.
 

Horizon22

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In Buckinghamshire the council check the council tax single person discount against the electoral roll and state so on the discount verification form which they send out every few years. Think I have received 3 Council Tax discount verification forms in the 15 years I have lived here. Anyone can access the public version of the ER by visiting the relevant council. I believe an appointment may be required to do so at some councils.

Some certain organisations are also permitted to view the full version of the register as well - I am not sure if the companies checking fair evasion details (RPSS?) have access to this but credit check companies can. Increasing numbers opt out of the public register, so it isn't a full and accurate record, so doubt that would be highly useful in an investigation.

The NI number is redacted and is only used by Elections offices to verify identify to match with DWP records.
 

WesternLancer

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Some certain organisations are also permitted to view the full version of the register as well - I am not sure if the companies checking fair evasion details (RPSS?) have access to this but credit check companies can. Increasing numbers opt out of the public register, so it isn't a full and accurate record, so doubt that would be highly useful in an investigation.

The NI number is redacted and is only used by Elections offices to verify identify to match with DWP records.
Yes, full roll is I am pretty sure accessible for these sorts of things. The 'limited' roll, or whatever it is called, is the one that marketing orgs can buy. Full roll open to a good range of others for specified purposes, eg inc political parties for example (so even a volunteer with a local political party can see the full register, if they have obtained / bought a copy - they normally do. What they do with it is of course restricted in various legal ways.
 

Trackman

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Slightly off topic: I knew someone who went missing, his wife reported it to the Police.
About 12 months later the Police visited her to say they had found him as he got a job and used his NI number which was flagged on the system, through this they found his home address. The local Police actually went around to make sure it was him.
Again, this doesn't explain why TOC's would want it before conviction.
 

Elwyn

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Again, this doesn't explain why TOC's would want it before conviction.
I feel sure it’s one of a range of possible pieces of information which may assist confirm someone’s identity. Identity misuse in alleged ticket evasion cases is clearly a widespread issue judging by the number of posts about it here. So you can’t blame rail companies for checking for it. Investigators often have a range of questions to ask someone which you might expect them to know the answer to without much thinking. How many of us know anyone else’s NI number?

You don’t have to provide the information of course.

I have interviewed people who attempted to give false dates of birth, in a law enforcement environment. There’s often an un-necessary hesitation while they think, and they often repeat it to be sure they got it right, in a way you don’t normally do when giving your own real date of birth. So how a person answers these questions can be just as informative as the information itself. And that can include refusing to answer.
 

WesternLancer

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I feel sure it’s one of a range of possible pieces of information which may assist confirm someone’s identity. Identity misuse in alleged ticket evasion cases is clearly a widespread issue judging by the number of posts about it here. So you can’t blame rail companies for checking for it. Investigators often have a range of questions to ask someone which you might expect them to know the answer to without much thinking. How many of us know anyone else’s NI number?

You don’t have to provide the information of course.

I have interviewed people who attempted to give false dates of birth, in a law enforcement environment. There’s often an un-necessary hesitation while they think, and they often repeat it to be sure they got it right, in a way you don’t normally do when giving your own real date of birth. So how a person answers these questions can be just as informative as the information itself. And that can include refusing to answer.
I am sure you are exactly right about all this.
 

Horizon22

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Yes, full roll is I am pretty sure accessible for these sorts of things. The 'limited' roll, or whatever it is called, is the one that marketing orgs can buy. Full roll open to a good range of others for specified purposes, eg inc political parties for example (so even a volunteer with a local political party can see the full register, if they have obtained / bought a copy - they normally do. What they do with it is of course restricted in various legal ways.

Its termed the open register (the limited one) and yes I would expect that the full register would be allowed for a specific ID check such as in a fare evasion incident.
 

lightbulb

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Its termed the open register (the limited one) and yes I would expect that the full register would be allowed for a specific ID check such as in a fare evasion incident.

Indeed. The electoral register is often confused with the electoral roll, which is a list of regular attenders of a parish church in the Church of England, who are thus eligible to vote in the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.
 
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