Youth fare prosecution advice please

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by k1mmie, 8 Oct 2010.

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  1. k1mmie

    k1mmie New Member

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    On 27th August, my son aged 17 and some friends travelled to Brighton for a concert gig. They got on at Upminster and he paid on his Oyster to London Bridge and then a seperate ticket to Brighton. The concert over ran and they missed the last train home that night. Not wanting to be stuck in Brighton for nearly 6 hours with no where to stay, they were told by the bus driver that they could get a bus to one of the London airports then wait for the next train to run and go back on several trains. This meant he had to buy a bus fare back to London (which took all his money) and then use what he had left on his Oyster to get home. The trouble is he had to get to Laindon which is out of the Zones and his Oyster had covered him to West Ham. Eventually at abour 6:45 the next day he called me to pick him up after travelling nearly 6 hours to get home.

    An inspector stopped and asked for his ticket for which he explained what had happened and that he had paid all the way to West Ham but ran out of money to get the last leg of the journey as he had to pay for the bus. My son showed him the ticket for the previous part of the journey to prove his story. He took his details and statement.

    Today 8th October, I get a letter saying that" he was travelling between the two stations without paying the correct fare. That Non payment ofrail fares is an ofence which may be prosecuted in a Youh Court. In order that I may close the report from our inspector, I request that the fare of £6.40 and an administrative fee should now be paid.

    Payment should be for £51.40 which represents a £45.00 administration fee and £6.40 for the outstandign fare".

    I acknowledge that this statement is correct in that he did not have a fare for the last part of the journey. Could someone please advise me if they are obliged to supply a copy of their report? This seems excessive considering the fare. Do I have any rights to challenge this?

    Any help please much appreciated.
     
  2. tony_mac

    tony_mac Established Member

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    Of course you can challenge it and see that evidence - but that would probably involve going to court and pleading not guilty. Even if you are found not guilty it would still probably cost you more than the 'administration' fee, at least in terms of time and stress.

    Until then, you could ask them nicely to waive or reduce the fee. If they are feeling generous, then they might, but I would be a little surprised.

    It's an unfortunate set of circumstances, but however you dress it up, he tried to get away without paying, and I wouldn't expect masses of sympathy.
     
  3. theblackwatch

    theblackwatch Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've never heard of this (extremely excessive) administration fee. What company is the letter from?
     
  4. Greenback

    Greenback Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd like to know whos ent the lette rout as well! I;d also like toc larify where the inspector was (ie on train or at a station) and confirm that your son had travelled, or was travelling, between West Ham and Laindon?
     
  5. transportphoto

    transportphoto Established Member Quizmaster

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    I am guessing that the letter is from C2C or their representative.
     
  6. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Not helpful. Please wait for a response from the OP before speculating.
     
  7. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It'll probably be the dreaded Revenue Support Services (is that the right name? something like that!) I have had the misfortune of reading some of their letters (fortunately not sent to me!), they are not nice people to say the least! They add on fees if you do not pay within (IIRC) 2 weeks of originally invoicing you, however the OP seems to suggest that the admin fee was already added, which is strange.

    But then if the admin fee is £45, the fare is only £6.40 - why are they not charging a Penalty Fare?

    This does sound strange indeed.
     
  8. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    I know its advice after the horse is bolted but there is only a gap of 4 hours in services to London from Brighton from 23.37 to 03.50.
    If you cant wait for the milk train there is a national express coach from Brighton to Gatwick Airport South terminal at 01.00 and 03.00 the adult fare is £7.50 and you will not have any problem with turning up and paying at departure. gatwick Airport has a half hourly rail service to London through the night alternatively to London Bridge and Victoria.
    If you are stranded in Brighton with no money speak to the ticket office at Brighton they have facilities to issue you with a ticket that you can pay for later or if you have missed the last train with a day return it is likely that they will just endorse your ticket to allow you to travel on the milk train.
    It may not surprise you that teenager at brighton station with no money and usually a lot the worse for wear isnt a rare occurence.
     
  9. b0b

    b0b Established Member

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    If you look at the date of the error, Aug 27, vs the receipt of the letter, Oct 8, I'm guessing our "revenue friends" have assumed that they sent out a letter that was ignored, so this letter has the bonus admin fee...
     
  10. Fred26

    Fred26 Member

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    I've had one of these, though it was so long ago I can't remember if it was from c2c or a 3rd party (it was on the c2c line though). Funnily enough I was fined £51.40 too - it worked out £50 fine and £1.40 for the ticket I should have bought. The letter said I should pay the fine or be taken to court.
    I was in the wrong and didn't want the grief, so I paid it.
    I must've been around 17 at the time too... coincidences, coincidences...
     
  11. k1mmie

    k1mmie New Member

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    Hi and thank you all for your input. Sorry for the delay. The letter is from C2C Rail Prosecution Department. My son was actually at the destination station and the ticket barrier was manned. He asked to be let out and explained his situation. The ticket guy said no and so he tried to contact me via his mobile phone as he was now trapped in the station and was not allowed to exit. Whilst trying to call me, He was then approached by a woman and a man with a notepad who asked to see his ticket and he explained once again what had happened. They then wrote down what he had explained and took his details.

    I am just confused as to why I am being charged an administration fee and not a penalty fare. Is this the same thing? Is it normally this excessive for such a small shortfall on a fare?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    HI. This sounds like the service and route he took to get back. Unfortunately the £7.50 swallowed up the last of his cash for the last leg of the journey. He did ask the driver if he could use his return to London Bridge on the bus, but was told he has to pay but they would allow him to use it on the trains to get back even though it was for the next morning.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'm not so sure as this letter explains the whole story from scratch as though it is a first letter. There is no mention of a previous letter or any indication that anything had been sent to my address before.

    It clearly states the fare and administrative fee.
     
  12. charlesn132

    charlesn132 Member

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    But which other company runs trains from West Ham to Laindon? It is most likely c2c :)

    Oh, it is, I missed the reply...
     
    Last edited: 8 Oct 2010
  13. k1mmie

    k1mmie New Member

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    lol:D
     
  14. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    My advice would be to pay it and put it down to experience. My opinion is that c2c probably have enough evidence to prosecute under the railway byelaws which would see the young lad saddled with a criminal record! It appears, they're taking into account the circumstances and allowing you to pay the fare plus an admin fee (yes, the admin fee is a little steep). As a rough guide, if they took it to Court, you could expect to pay out somewhere in the region of 200-350 quid, plus the fare due. And I'm of the opinion that any Court case would be pretty open and shut too. Did the young lad travel without a valid ticket? Yes. Did he have the means to pay for a valid ticket? No. I appreciate this advice probably isn't what you wanted to hear, but it's the best I can offer you!
     
  15. b0b

    b0b Established Member

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    Ferrett probably has the best advice, but it is unfortunate this is being charged at over 700% of the fare when it seems like the young lad was simply caught out by circumstance, rather than attempting to deliberately avoid paying a fare.

    I wouldn't find him guilty of intentionally evading the fare if I was on a jury.
     
  16. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    That's the problem - it won't be before a jury. I'm told that a railway byelaw offence is what's known as a 'strict liability offence' - you get reported because you did it and you attend Court to be sentenced. That's why the likes of East Coast are able to brag about their 100% conviction rates - they only take the open and shut cases of clear byelaw breaches and win every time.
     
  17. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    It is completely irrelevant who operates the trains, there are so many parties involved including debt collection agencies one cannot be sure on the true source of the letter unless you are the recipient.
     
  18. b0b

    b0b Established Member

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    ah, well that sucks, he probably admitted he knew he didn't have enough money on his oyster - making it an easy case. :(
     
  19. TEW

    TEW Established Member

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    You'll be before three magistrates, it is a summary (minor) offence so not tried before a jury. The magistrates decide whether you committed the crime and your punishment. If it is a strict liability offence, I don't know if it is or not then the prosecution do not have to prove intent; the fact that you were on the train without a ticket would be enough to have committed the crime, whereas for most crimes you'd have to intend to commit the crime.
     
  20. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Yes. That's correct.

    No one on here should ever assume that "going to Court" involves some sort of rational consideration of the balance of evidence, or a reflection on the moral issues it raises, or a whimsical interest in what is fair and reasonable. Its not; Courts have very well defined procedures and frameworks; the novice hoping to succeed with a compelling story of common sense is nearly always doomed to loose.

    As ferret says, the prosecution will be going to Court in order to have the sentence (the penalty) properly determined.

    There are exceptions - and I have been successful even in cases of "Absolute / Strict Liability" thrice, but these required very specific challenges in law or process. Even more likely to succeed is the detection of a simple error in the prosecution's evidence, such as a mistake in identifying the train/time/date correctly.
     
  21. Ferret

    Ferret Established Member

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    Thanks for the clarification here Dave/TEW. I'd love to able to attend Court one day to witness my employer's prosecutor in action - I believe we haven't lost many cases involving the railway byelaws either but it'd be fascinating to see how it's done.
     
  22. TEW

    TEW Established Member

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    You are free to attend, as is any body. I don't know how easy it would be to find out when railway cases are coming up though.
     
  23. scrapy

    scrapy Member

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    They are asking for the fare £6.40 plus an admin fee of £45. It is a criminal offence to avoid paying the fare so the OP is required to pay this. The admin fee of £45 is not covered by railway byelaws or NCCOC, and no criminal offence is committed if this isn't paid. This is surely a civil matter between the OP's 17 year old son and the TOC. As he is under 18 no court could enforce payment. Had he been 18 or over a civil court may judge it is reasonable to charge this to cover no only admin but also as a contribution towards the TOCs revenue protection costs.

    There is a common misconception that intent must be proved. If the charge is fraud it does however prosecution for fare evasion intent doesn't have to be proved. The simple act of travelling without authority or making payment is enough, even if you 'forget'. A recent case I am aware of in where a passenger boarded a train without a ticket at a staffed station (in a non PF area). The guard didn't get to the passenger as the train was busy (but the passenger made no attempt to find the guard). The passenger left the train at an unstaffed station and was asked for a ticket by an RPI and she was unable to produce one. She was successfully prosecuted for fare evasion. No intent had to be proved in court. The fact that this woman does this on a daily basis and the RPI was there after a tip off by ticket office staff was not mentioned in court either, it was simply enough for the magistrates that she hadn't paid. This woman does pay only the odd occasion the guard gets to her on her 4 minute journey on a peak time train.
     
    Last edited: 9 Oct 2010
  24. Lampshade

    Lampshade Established Member

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    I'd just pay the fare then politely refuse to pay the 'admin' fee, you haven't been contacted prior to this requesting payment so there's no logical reason why the extortion, sorry, admin fee is being added on.

    I'm very surprised that a Penalty Fare hasn't been issued though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 17 Feb 2011
  25. Solent&Wessex

    Solent&Wessex Established Member

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    With the person being under 18 I'm not sure of the finer procedural details, but I suspect this generous "offer" of avoiding court by paying an admin fee plus the fare is basically an out of court settlement attempt. I know from dealings with my own TOCs department the standard costs awarded when a case goes to magistrates court is about £110, so they will attempt to get payment for the fare plus roughly half that up front as this is seen as a gesture to avoid court. The TOC prefers it as they get the cash up front, and in theory the defendant prefers it as they get to pay less money and don't get saddled with a criminal record.

    As I said, I don't know how it works with under 18s, but for those 18 or over the Prosecution Unit would accept full cleared payment of what they demand or it goes to court - where the consequences could be more severe.
     
  26. nedchester

    nedchester Member

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    Must remember that 'admin' fee when I send my ticket to Merseyrail every time they overcharge me by 40p because their TVMs won't issue advertised tickets!!!
     
  27. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    To be honest I'd just pay up and put it down to experience. £45 isnt that bad, a penalty fare at TFL stations is £50 now plus the single fare.
    His planning wasnt very good anyway the last official connection for Laindon from Brighton is 22.33 and yet he managed to miss the last train to London over an hour later. It was always likely that he wasnt going to make it all the way home I would suggest.

    Assuming he caught the 01.00 bus to Gatwick if he didnt arrive at Laindon till 06.45 he must have spent a lot of time hanging around somewhere in London waiting for the first train.

    Dont get me wrong I did far worse things as a teenager but in this case he got caught and c2cs actions are not unreasonable.
     
  28. k1mmie

    k1mmie New Member

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    The last train was 23:37 which is the one he missed. He then had to wait for the 01:00 to Gatwick.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Thanks guys for all your advice. Appreciate it.
     
  29. Oracle

    Oracle Established Member

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    I would just pay up and hope/pray that the case does not go any further. I empathise here. I have three kids, one boy being over 18.
     
  30. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Yeah I understand that. The point I was making is that since the Last train from London to Laindon is 00.25 he could not have got all the way home by catching the 23.37 from Brighton with out an overnight wait some where in London.
     
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