I was caught using my Dad's Freedom Pass end of November and it almost looks certain that TfL will prosecute me for doing so
as they can probably build a strong case against me.
Of course, I regret my actions and am hoping to find some assistance here to help minimise repercussions.
Please have patience with me and read my story.
I don't expect any sympathy as I know I am totally in the wrong,
but I don't need any nasty unkind comments.
So here is my story.
[ The facts of the incident ]
I beeped through the barriers and was called to the side by two undercover TfL officers, who requested that I show my ticket.
Knowingly, that I used a fraudulent card, I produced a standard oyster card that I've not used for months.
Of course they knew this wasn't the card I beeped in with.
He checked the oyster and told me there was still credit on it, but hasn't been used or topped up for months.
He asked me to produce the real card (Freedom Pass).
I tried looking confused, but the officer wasn't going to be entertained
and threatened that he would search me if I didn't cooperate.
I handed over my Dad's Freedom pass and began to feel like distress coming on as the only thought running through my head was.
.. 'the crap has finally hit the fan'.
He told me he stopped me because abusing Freedom Passes was a high-risk target.
He then goes on to take my details and ask a lot of questions and wrote it all down in his notebook.
"Do you know that you've committed a serious offense?"
- "I'm not really sure, I thought I could use it."
"How did you obtain this card?"
- "My dad wasn't using it and I thought I would borrow it."
"How often have you used it?"
- "I just started using it this week."
"Today is Wed, so you've used it for a total of 3 days?"
- "Yes, I guess so."
"Are you sure? We can track the usage of the card and find out everything."
- "Erm... Yes."
"Where were you traveling from and where were you going?"
- "I'm going home from work."
After he finished asking me questions, he let me read through his notes to check if anything was different from what was said.
I said it was fine.
He then wanted me to sign and date it,
but before doing so he said...
"After I let you go, I want you to know that I am only giving you a caution.
After you sign this, I will file a report and you will receive a letter about the event that has occurred.
You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence.
Anything you do say may be given in evidence, etc...
Do you understand what I have just said to you?"
Trying to get a moment to think about the situation,
I asked him to repeat as I was under the feeling of duress I suppose.
I answered "YES" and signed his notepad.
He told me to exit the gates by one of the staff
and I re-enter with the other oyster card as there was sufficient credit.
[ Unsaid truths ]
Obviously, I didn't have a clear head, being under pressure and scared... so I wasn't entirely truthful.
When he asked how often I had used the card, I was thinking to lie in the hope that it wouldn't turn out more serious than I thought it surely would.
I had thought that I hadn't been stopped before as I normally come and go at peak times when it's very busy (Piccadilly circus),
so it would be difficult to go through all the CCTV and check who used the card.
I stupidly thought it plausible that my Dad could have been using it up till the time I "said" I had started using it.
In actual fact, I had been using it for 3 months(!) - yes, shame on me!
There will obviously be a pattern for the last 3 months traveling between home and work.
In a panic,
I started reading up on cases on various forums (including CAG).
I read somewhere that when an officer conducts an interview for facts,
the statement of Right to Silence must be cited before the interview starts.
* If the officer only did this at the end, like I mentioned... what bearing does that have on my case?
[ Received a letter from TfL asking me to comment on the event ]
So I received the standard letter and having read a few cases,
it was advised to just grovel and beg for mercy...
so I replied as follows:
I would like to start by saying that I deeply regret my actions, which were completely out of character and as a result of stupidity.
I had actually lost my oyster card that I normally use over the weekend.
In the rush of leaving for work in the morning and without clearing thinking of the consequences,
I foolishly picked up my father’s Freedom Pass in addition to a spare one I found lying around.
I simply thought to use the Freedom pass temporarily until I’d gotten paid so I could buy a new monthly travelcard.
I was not aware that it is a criminal offence to use someone else’s Freedom pass.
I know now, there is no excuse or valid reason for using someone else’s pass and am deeply sorry for not travelling on public transport without a valid ticket.
The whole situation has left me quite distraught and I would appreciate the opportunity to settle the matter without court proceedings
to avoid even further stress, wasting everyone’s time and resources, and incurring further costs.
I completely accept that I am in the wrong. This is my first offence and will certainly be the last! It is not a mistake I will ever be repeating. I humbly ask that you give me the opportunity to compensate TFL for reasonable costs/fine/fare in order to conclude the matter promptly.
I am currently engaged to my fiance overseas, and would like to invite her over to get married on a visitor visa.
I fear that any legal prosecution would greatly reduce our chances of getting accepted for the visa.
[ Reply from TfL ]
Thank you for responding to our enquiry letter, your comments will be taken into consideration when reviewing this case.
Please note it is the responsibility of a passenger to ensure they have a valid ticket...
After examining the journey history obtained from the freedom pass, it is apparent that this was not a 'one off' incident.
It is suspected that you have made more than 80 journeys,
avoiding fares of over £400, this we see as an aggravating feature in your case.
I must point out that legal proceedings may still be taken against you.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can assist you further.
[ End of letter ]
I've almost lost all hope of being able to settle out of court.
To only thing I can think of is to try to appeal to the humanity of the investigating officer with my mitigating circumstances.
I know I'm not angel, but I like to think I'm a fairly decent human being.
I pay my taxes, had my fair share of hardships and could really do without this hanging over my head.
To try and put across my frame of mind at the time,
here is my personal story...
[ Circumstances ]
I quit my job as an IT professional about 2 years ago.
Went to pursue a relationship and take a break from work, and do some traveling.
Relationship didn't work out and it's 6 months since I've been working.
Feeling really down, and a million miles from home in the country I was born, I visited distant relatives for a little support.
I met someone through introduction and we hit it off so I was able to get over my last failed relationship.
We are now engaged and are planning a future together. I've been living off my savings for almost 2 years.
I was practically living, counting the pennies for the 6 months I had been back in UK and looking for work.
It is quite difficult getting back into things after such a long break.
I chose not to go on Job Seeker allowance which is a particular drain on taxes.
I grit my teeth hoping that I'd find a job any day.
So up til this incident, I've been working in a new job for 3 months.
Slowly trying to save money to be able to bring my other half here so we can be married and start a life together.
Right about the time I just started my job, my Dad offers to let me use his freedom pass!!!
Oh how I wish right now he didn't tempt me... I had always paid my travel costs as any good citizen would.
He argued that it would help save costs and aid in my efforts to bring my other half over (requiring financial support).
My Dad has no clue of legal stuff so didn't know the complications in their entirety when giving me his freedom pass.
I knew it wasn't right to use it, but thought to myself - "How bad could it be?
A slap on the wrist, a fine, and repay the cost of travels that I evaded.
" I had no clue whatsoever, that it could result in a criminal offense and would certainly refused his offer had I known.
I've not seen my other half for almost a year and it's quite difficult on us both.
This is really the last thing I need in the world and certainly won't reflect well,
when applying for a VISA for other half to come here as I would have to sponsor and be financially accountable for.
I am trying desperately to build a good supporting case for VISA approval.
[ and closing... ]
Thank you for reading my story and I hope some of you may be able to offer some guidance on what to do next.
I am dreading the day I get a court summons...