Why is advice offered to those who cheat the system

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Jamiescott1, 7 Nov 2019 at 21:37.

  1. Jamiescott1

    Jamiescott1 Member

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    This is in no way critical. But if people try to defraud the system by paying incorrect fares or using invalid passes then why is advice offered in this forum on how to minimise punishment ?

    Forum members seem a friendly bunch, they dont turn around and say "good, you got what you deserved" but they offer advice to people who probably would never come on this forum
     
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  3. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    For the same reason defence lawyers offer mitigation: Everyone has a right to a fair hearing and to have their side heard. Otherwise there would be a risk of disproportionate punishment.
     
  4. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Sometimes, people are charged incorrect fares through no fault of their own and it would be unfair to penalise them. Sometimes people select incorrect tickets though no fault of their own. The ticketing system can be very complex and people do make (honest) mistakes. Nobody wants to see unfair justice

    But of course, there are chancers that may dodge the fare once or twice and the serial fare dodgers who deliberately avoid paying their way and try and weasel their way out of it when caught
     
  5. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    To add to other comments:
    I don't think that is generally true, unless you are referring to advice aout out of court settlements, but you can always report posts you think are inappropriate.

    Well, actually, there are some posts which do head in the "serves you right" direction; don't understand the rest of the sentence, sorry.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2019 at 15:23
  6. Fawkes Cat

    Fawkes Cat Member

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    I know that other people will have different views, but I have some sympathy for the OP: I am irritated when the response to a poster in trouble with the railway is 'let's find a loophole' (for example, starting by checking whether the right posters about penalty fares are displayed in the right places). But against this, I try to help posters to accept the smallest available sanction (an early out of court settlement rather than conviction and fine), and also to explain that even if they are convicted, it's not the end of the world or their career. I suppose it's because I want the punishment to fit the crime - and if an out of court settlement is enough to deter a fare dodger from doing it again, that's good enough for me.
     
  7. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    If a TOC (or anyone else, for that matter) wishes to prosecute someone for breaking the law they should first ensure that they are complying with the law.
     
  8. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    In other words, it probably is ;)
    You are presumably referring to the recommendation to settle matters out of court? If that is not what you are referring to then in curious to know what you mean.

    Train companies prefer people to settle out of court as it reduces their workload and legal costs and provides a source of income that would not exist if a customer is found guilty by the courts.

    No-one is obligated to provide any advice; if you think any post is inappropriate I ask that you use the report button, let us know th details and don't refer to or republish the content causing concern.

    I don't understand what you are saying but we require anyone responding to threads in D&P to post constructively (or not at all).

    If people never come to this forum then they don't see advice on this forum.

    I struggle to understand the logic or reasoning of this post..

    Feel free to write to train companies and ask that they stop settling cases out of court in order to satisfy your wishes.

    I doubt many train companies will want to incur the additional costs while simultaneously reducing their income, however.
     
  9. Bungaroosh

    Bungaroosh Member

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    As I lack the knowledge to give advice, I don't take part in the threads in this section but I do enjoy reading them. Every case is different and has its own peculiar nuances, which is why I find them so interesting.

    I would say the majority of people who admit to having chanced it and who have then been caught are rather contrite. Often you get people saying they really didn't realise how serious the consequences of fare evasion are; certainly not worth the thrill of saving a couple of quid. I get the feeling a lot of people see the penalty fare notices with whatever amount they are these days (~£30?) and they must think somehow having to pay a £30 "fine" is the worst that can possibly happen.

    Knowledgeable members here seem willing to give advice generously to those who without prompting admit and regret their error, as well as to those who have been given penalties unfairly.
     
  10. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My background is an adviser in the voluntary sector (thankfully paid for a lot of that but not always) and I have previously worked for a very well known national charity that specialises in giving advice to citizens. As part of my training it is drilled into you that you must not judge the person coming for your help. That you shouldn't treat them differently from anyone else on the basis of the race, gender or sexual orientation (etc, etc) but also not on the basis that you think they've been a prize idiot and getting what they deserve. We are trained that our role is to advise whoever is in front of you and whatever situation they've got themselves into on their rights, their obligations and then their options for dealing with it.

    So that ethos carries over into what I do here when trying to help people with prosecution issues.

    Do I think that someone who comes on here who has clearly tried it on and been found it is a prize twerp? Yes of course I do and I hope that they get their just deserts. But that doesn't change the fact that I firmly believe that they are just as entitled to know what is likely to happen to them, to know what their obligations were the railway, to know the railways obligations were to them and what options they now have to try and resolve the issue in the best way possible for them.

    If they've clearly been fare evading and have been caught out then I'm not going to bend over backwards trying to find them a way out of the situation and escaping their fate. But I want to make sure that they're fully informed and can make a decision on what to do next once they have possession of the facts.

    And I don't think that there is anything wrong with that.
     
  11. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Seconded!
     
  12. cuccir

    cuccir Established Member

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    Several reasons.

    First and foremost, presuming the accused is guilty, an out of court settlement is almost always the best outcome. The train company gets more money. Taxpayer funded court time is not used up on a relatively minor matter. The fare dodger is punished but without the potential consequences of a criminal record which for most cases is disproportionate to the crime committed.

    Second, if we just say "you got what you deserved" to everyone who came here, then we'd never tease out those cases where actually the train company was out of order. The number of cases such as this is not huge, but it's also not negligible. Similarly, we'd never be able to offer the support on here for those people who have made a genuine mistake or error of judgement, which I think form the vast majority of cases.

    Third, we do get threads on here where the person has done it and is essentially not really taking the blame. You'll find that those get very few responses compared to the genuinely contrite, so in the vast majority of cases I don't think we are helping serial fare dodgers looking to 'get away with it'.

    Fourth, without the right info people can argue their way into a more severe and arguably inappropriate punishment, particularly if they do not understand the nuances of a RoRA prosecution for 'intent' to avoid a fare v a Bylaws prosecution for not having a valid ticket when boarding a train, or if they don't understand the process of engaging with the TOC and courts system. We've seen more than one case where prior to coming here, the accused was on the road to a very severe punishment which could affect future employability in ways which seem disproportionate to the actual offence committed. We can usually lead people to a more reasonable outcome where they are still punished but proportionally so.
     
  13. Brissle Girl

    Brissle Girl Member

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    Thirded. And I would rather someone come along and admit that they knew very well what they were doing than someone who claims it was all an innocent mistake when it wasn’t.

    Of course, there are many cases here which are innocent mistakes and the whole fare system, how you buy, etc etc can easily trap inexperienced users out, and those certainly need the help they get herehaving found themselves in the situation they do.
     
  14. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Is that any different to, for example, a defence lawyer suggesting a guilty plea be entered to reduce the possible length of a sentence?
     
  15. nlogax

    nlogax Established Member

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    Same. I read many of the posts here, with occasional red mist descending when I see stories of TOCs being firmly in the wrong and needlessly putting innocent passengers through the mud. Less so with stories from those who've avoided buying tickets - they're contrite enough to register here, ask for advice and accept it when it's given. All seems very reasonable.
     
  16. 70014IronDuke

    70014IronDuke Established Member

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    I think this is the crucial element of the whole subject of fare 'crime'. And it's often not the fact that suspects actually get prosecuted, it's the psychological threat that they might be, which appears to be a weapon the TOCs use all too willingly. Time after time, we see threads in here where people are petrified that they are going to get a criminal record for crimes involving sums which, even if they did 'try it on', would never get to court if the offence was shoplifting/theft. It's as if railway law hasn't moved on since the age of Dickens.

    I have no problem with prosecution for serious (eg ticket forgery) or multiple fare evasion, but we have one current example where someone caught the wrong train on an advance ticket got caught, didn't have the dosh to pay the excess, and is facing a seemingly very real threat of criminal prosecution. Even if it turns out to be solved out of court, the worry and stress caused is just excessive and not right.

    And it's even less not right (IYSWIM) when we have concurrent reports of yobs threatening violence seemingly getting away with repeated fare evasion (AND causing serious fears among law-abiding passengers) as per the recent threat on trains in the Guildford-Haslemere areas.
     
    Last edited: 8 Nov 2019 at 14:10
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Somebody who has made a mistake, who is willing to admit to that, and who would like to minimise the negative consequences of their actions is more than entitled to good advice in my view.

    It does not get them off for having got something wrong, if that's what has happened.
     
  18. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Only because shops choose not to use private prosecutions.
     
  19. Bungle158

    Bungle158 Member

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    As a former TM, l cannot recall a day when l did not have to deal with a an attempted fare evasion. The practice, IMO, is endemic.

    I would suggest that the so called contrition, expressed by many posters on these pages is more to do with having been caught, than regret for the offence itself.

    Reading through the thread guidelines, it appears that discussion of this nature is not encouraged. This l can understand and will continue to offer what little non judgemental help l can.

    Nevertheless, it is sometimes frustrating to read heart wrenching pleas from those caught up in the prosecution process. Particularly as many of the posters did not previously care that their actions amounted to theft.
     
  20. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I don't think a lot of people realise that fare evasion is a criminal offence - I suspect many think it is a civil matter like a parking ticket.
     
  21. GusB

    GusB Established Member

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    The system can be a bit of a minefield, though, and as we have seen in this section of the forum, there are many cases where someone has fallen foul of the rules due to making a fairly basic mistake. I recall one recent case where someone boarded at a station with no ticketing facilities, no reasonable opportunity to purchase en route, and alighted at another station without facilities and subsequently ended up in trouble.

    There's no consistency across the network. Until I joined the forum, I was under the impression that it was perfectly okay to get on a train and pay the conductor. Indeed, I could probably make a local journey today and have the conductor sell me a ticket on board. I know now to make sure I use the TVM or visit the ticket office, but hitherto it was considered perfectly acceptable to buy on board. Not once have I been advised by a conductor that this isn't the correct behaviour, and there's no real incentive for them to do so if they're earning commission from the sale.

    If I decided to have a holiday in, say, Northernland and boarded a train expecting the situation to be the same, I'd be in for a shock. Your average punter won't be versed in the finer details of the Conditions of Travel.

    There are a few forum members who will tut and shake their heads and seem to be of the "yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before" mentality, but generally I find that those giving advice do so in a sympathetic manner and recognise that we're human and occasionally prone to the odd blunder.
     
  22. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That's not even a mistake. At least not on the passenger's side.
     
  23. MPotter

    MPotter On Moderation

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    Agree
     
  24. Puffing Devil

    Puffing Devil Established Member

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    For many people who post here, it's their first encounter with the legal system and they were not aware that their actions were criminal - though that is no defence.

    I'm happy to offer advice on the process to those who are contrite and are worried about the outcome - some people are thinking that they will face a prison sentence, which we all know is never going to happen for a bylaw offence. Also, there are many people posting who have been wrongly accused or are victims of borrowed identities or have simply fallen through some of the cracks in the system and they deserve the full support of the forum.

    I, personally, steer clear of threads which seem to be fishing expeditions for loopholes.

    Nobody is forced to post and no-one is compelled to read the postings.
     
  25. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    And people here are probably taking a fair bit of pressure of local CAB offices, which is no bad thing!
     
  26. WombatDeath

    WombatDeath Member

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    Couldn't agree more. The rail industry has gradually acquired an enormous scaffolding of legislation, much of it impenetrable to a non-specialist, which it deploys at the drop of a hat while regularly abusing it (citation: this forum). John Smith sees a queue at the ticket office and his train is pulling in; he thinks "Screw it, I'll buy a ticket on board from the guard" and finds himself waiting for three months to discover whether he's going to be prosecuted and lose his job over a £5 fare which he intended to pay. (Yes, we know John's unlikely to be prosecuted, but he doesn't).

    Until the industry gets its act together, learns its own rules, kicks out the bad and/or incompetent apples among the staff (front line, back office and management) and properly compensates the victims of its mistakes, I fully and wholeheartedly support the exploitation of any conceivable loophole.
     
  27. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I suppose two pieces in the 19th century and one in the 20th does count as gradual... Though I'm not sure it can be called enormous.
     
  28. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    isn't the whole infrastructure (gradual role out in different areas / routes) of penalty fares on top of that - or is that from the 20th C legislation?
     
  29. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    They're 20th century, but they don't represent a path which can result in a prosecution.
     
  30. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Thanks
     

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