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[Help] GF used my student oyster card and faces prosecution

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Hi all,

 

I have read up on some threads about fare evasion in general and felt that it would be useful if some experts could advise me on my specific case.

 

So to lay it out - my girlfriend graduated last year and has been jobhunting for a while. She obtained a temporary job which required regular travel and i thought I could let her use my student oyster (she paid for travelcards herself). I personally used a PAYG oyster as I prefer to walk/cycle when the weather is nice and only tube when the weather is horrible.

 

Obviously, she was caught at the station with my card and was informed that we would receive a letter from TfL soon and face prosecution having signed a statement of some sort.

 

We realise now how stupid it was and would never do it again - a criminal record for a new graduate in the current climate would really ruin our lives. I should mention that this is a first time offence if it's not obvious.

 

As i understand, we should soon be receiving a letter for TfL and a court summons shortly after. I intend on writing to the prosecution manager as soon as possible with an apology and hope that TfL will not continue with the prosecution (it's in my opinion that the prosecution would probably be successful. It's hard to deny that she was using my student card when it is linked to her bank account payments, as well as regular travel)

 

Could you give me any advice on how to proceed? Specific advice on how to write the letter and what to include would be really much appreciated - what would construed as "exceptional circumstances" (referring to tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/revenue-enforcement-and-prosecutions-policy.pdf, section 8.3(e)?

 

Any advice I would be incredibly grateful for.

 

EDIT:

Edit with details of questioning by the inspector:

She was taken aside by the ticket inspector and was asked to show a valid ticket - she showed my card

She was asked who's card it was - answered that it was mine and admitted that she had been using my card

 

She was cautioned about upcoming questions

Ticket Inspector asked questions, noting down questions and responses as follows:

Do you realise you're not supposed to use someone's card? Yes - realised, but didn't realise seriousness of consequences

Do you know it's an offence not to have a valid ticket? Yes

What was your previous card for travel? Student Oyster card and recently graduated

Do you have another card to use? No

How long have you been using the card? November but unsure.

Asked again who's card it was and reason for having it - boyfriend's card and used it because he began to cycle

What is your occupation? Temporary work having recently graduated

 

I'm not sure if this can help in any way but I thought the additional information may be useful to get a better idea of the situation.

Edited by Darkhiatus
Updated Information

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I'm not sure if this would help my case or not, but I have spent an appreciable amount on my PAYG Oyster during the period my GF was using my student oyster - I will check the exact amount, but i'm reasonably sure it is lower than the travelcard cost, though it is still quite a lot.

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Hello and welcome to CAG. I hope the forum guys will be along later with advice for you.

 

In case it helps, how many times did your girlfriend use the student card, would you say please? I think I'm right in saying that this gave her a discount that's designed for students?

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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It definitely gives a discount to students for travelcards, i think it is in order of 30% or so. My girlfriend probably used the card for a return trip maybe 3-4 days a week? That i am unsure.

 

As i mentioned, she is a graduate and she previously had a student oyster too and felt that in order to save money whilst she didn't have a permanent job she could use my oyster. Personally, I don't even suffer from typical student finance problems as I do not go out much and my family are quite supportive - i felt that the discount was helping someone who actually needed it instead... I realise how stupid that reads, but it was the genuine thought at the time.

 

Thanks for the quick reply and I appreciate the help.

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Thank you for that.

 

I don't know if the guys will come up with anything for not understanding the conditions of the card. This is on TfL's website.

 

From section H

51. Your 18+ Student Oyster photocard, and any season ticket or pay as you go credit held on it, are for your use only.

52. An 18+ Student Oyster photocard can only be used by the person whose photograph and name appears on it. If you allow someone else to use your photocard, we may withdraw your Student-rate travel concession and the person using your photocard may be subject to a penalty fare and/or prosecution.

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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"If you allow someone else to use your photocard, we may withdraw your Student-rate travel concession and the person using your photocard may be subject to a penalty fare and/or prosecution."

 

I would be glad if we could pay a penalty and even have my student rate travel concession withdrawn as long as there's no criminal record! I understand it's taken to be more serious when a freedom pass is used but I have no idea what the stance is on allowing someone else to use my student oyster. Is the norm to have privileges revoked and pay a penalty or is prosecution more likely?

 

Thanks again, HB. This is all really new to me and it's quite daunting - any information I could get would really ease my mind.

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Hello again.

 

I'm sure there will be more replies for you. I believe that the choice of penalty fare or prosecution isn't yours though, sadly, it's down to TfL.

 

Hopefully, the guys will have other advice for you when they're able to get here.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Student Card essentially treated same as a Freedom Pass, i.e. a Publically funded concession.

 

Therefore abuse of the concession, is treated seriously.

 

Read through the many threads about "Freedom Pass" misuse, and the same sort of outcomes will be applicable to you.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?379029-Caught-using-freedom-pass

etc

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I have read a lot of threads regarding all types of tickets and TOCs - It seems that the London Underground have a reputation for prosecution...

 

For us the worst outcome really is a criminal record - even a fine of £1000 without prosecution would be favourable to us. The problem we have is that we don't know how to convey this to the prosecution manager, and if there are any "exceptional circumstances" at all?

 

Any advice directed to this point in particular would help a great deal.

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Each case is unique and will be considered on its own facts and merits. There are however, general principles that apply to the way in which TfL Investigators and Prosecutors will approach each case.

 

TfL will have regard to the following factors in favour of prosecution:

 

8.1(g)

The offender has unlawfully used or transferred a Freedom pass, Staff Pass or other concessionary passes or travel documents issued to named holders.

 

Exceptional circumstances are just that. They must be exceptional. Damaging your career prospects is not an exceptional circumstance. It is a consequence.

 

I would say exceptional services are things like:

 

Rushing to a hospital to visit a seriously ill relative, when you hold no money or;

Being chased by a gang and you jump on the next bus/train to avoid them;

Having a disability that impairs decision making abilities;

etc...

 

Nevertheless, you can certainly try and explain your current situation and the impact a criminal record would have, but in reality, this is something you should have considered before breaking the law.

Might get lucky though.

 

If you have ever had a TfL Penalty Fare or been stopped before, I would say no chance of avoiding this one!

Edited by firstclassx

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Your information is useful, and thank you for it. As i mentioned in my first post, it's a first time offence and the edit mentions how we had no idea of the consequences - I don't think I would be mistaken in saying most people would expect a fixed penalty and nothing close to court action!

 

Is there any advice on how to construct a letter to achieve the best chance of settling out of court?

 

EDIT: Coming at this from a different perspective:

8.3 TfL will have regard to the following factors in the decision to discontinue

proceedings:

(a) New and compelling evidence not previously available to TfL.

(b) Insufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution.

© Where the continuance of proceedings is likely to lead to an abuse of

the process of the courts.

(d) Where continued proceedings are likely to be deemed malicious or in

fact likely to be prejudicial to TfL’s interest.

(e) Where the Prosecutions Manager takes the decision to discontinue

proceedings against the offender, due to exceptional circumstances.

Where the withdrawal is due to (e) above, the relevant Prosecutions

Manager may set the terms and conditions for such withdrawal.

 

It seems to me that a,b and c are unlikely to come into effect. The only hope I would have is d or e. I am reasonably sure d is not applicable either - perhaps someone can give me an example to illustrate this?

 

Otherwise, the only part that seems relevant is 8(e). From the above description of exceptional circumstances, it seems that we stand no chance here and firstclassx seems to suggest that prosecution will happen regardless of what a letter may say.

 

Well, assuming the above - it seems the thing that would help me most is being able to construct a good letter, is that correct?

Edited by Darkhiatus

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Well it's not going to be "d" is it? You being prosecuted would be your own fault, not because TfL are deliberately trying to ruin your life by starting malicious/unfounded prosecutions. "d" also stops bad headline prosecutions, e.g. 90 year old war veteran taken to court over expired freedom pass etc.

 

You are relying on "e".

 

You are overlooking the fact that you probably have MORE things in favour of prosecution, (list 8.1) rather than against, (list 8.3).

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Thanks for the explaining of 8d with the accompanying example. As i mentioned before, I am unversed in the terminology so I didn't know what a "malicious prosecution" was.

 

Otherwise, the only part that seems relevant is 8(e). From the above description of exceptional circumstances, it seems that we stand no chance here and firstclassx seems to suggest that prosecution will happen regardless of what a letter may say.

 

Well, assuming the above - it seems the thing that would help me most is being able to construct a good letter, is that correct?

 

I think this explains very well that I am overlooking nothing. I realise that everything points in favour of prosecution. I realise that there are no points against prosecution. I realise this and come here to seek your advice on what I can do. Anything I can do that may result in a lesser penalty than prosecution.

 

The only other option is to plead guilty, and accept a criminal record, which as I have made abundantly clear, I am trying to avoid. I realise you are telling me that my chances are low and all point towards prosecution. Now it would be helpful if you can help me by providing advice on how can i maximise this TINY chance of not being prosecuted.

 

I apologise if I come across in a negative tone, but I really am quite frustrated...

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There's nothing you can do.

 

You will receive a letter within the next 3 months asking for your version of events. Be honest and keep it short. You can also attach a further, short, letter containing an apology and your "exceptional circumstances".

 

Most likely a summons will follow for a Magistrates' Court somewhere in London, but if you are unbelievably lucky they will reply and warn you about your future conduct and overlook this incident.

 

I would recommend getting some money together, just in case you are fined.

 

Treat TfL as if they were the CPS. Would you expect the CPS to drop your case?

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"Is a prosecution required in the public interest?

 

It has never been the rule in this country that every criminal offence must automatically be prosecuted. For this reason, in each case, the prosecutor must consider whether a prosecution is required in the public interest.

 

A prosecution will usually take place unless the prosecutor is sure that there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which outweigh those tending in favour, or unless the prosecutor is satisfied that the public interest may be properly served, in the first instance, by offering the offender the opportunity to have the matter dealt with by an out-of-court disposal.

 

The public interest factors that can affect the decision to prosecute vary from case to case. The more serious the offence or the offender's record of criminal behaviour, the more likely it is that a prosecution will be required in the public interest. On the other hand, a prosecution is less likely to be required if, for example, a court would be likely to impose a nominal penalty or the loss or harm connected with the offence was minor and the result of a single incident."

 

Could anyone enlighten me on what constitutes "public interest"? I have a feeling 'I won't do it again and I will treat my oyster stricter than a debit card of mine' doeesn't cut it - what would? Again an example would be useful for me.

 

To firstclassx:

I wouldn't expect anything other than prosecution, CPS or not, given the situation. I can gather money for a fine or out of court settlement - either way I expect a fine to be coming my way, it is the question of how I can reduce the chance of being prosecuted.

 

I appreciate the effort and help you have given me in informing me of my current situation, however, I am still very lacking in what to include in this letter of apology. Could anyone clarify on what i should include and also how to structure the letter? This I think is the most help that could be given to me at the moment.

 

 

Thank you everyone again for your advice.

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Hello again.

 

I hope other forum memebers will be along with their views for you. Generally the advice on writing the letter is to wait until it arrives so we can see which law/byelaw they're quoting.

 

To my inexpert eye, one of your problems is likely to be calling it a first offence when you've said your girlfriend used the card '3 to 4 times a week', was that for a few weeks? Also, the conditions of the card are easily available online and some of them are on the back of the card itself. It could have said something like 'non-transferable'.

 

HB

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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HB is spot-on, it is best to wait to see what the rail company actually allege before trying to deal with this.

 

I understand the comment regarding 'first offence' and your girlfriend's previous use, but legally, if convicted, this would be a first offence if there is no previous court action for anything. She might have used it previously, but with no evidence that she had been reported previously this is a 'first' so far as any legal action is concerned.

 

The Terms & Conditions do indeed include the instruction that the card cannot be used by someone else and are accepted at time of application

 

So far as 'public interest' is concerned, this is what the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines say about the matter;

 

'This is the principal form of dishonesty to affect public transport. The fact that it is widespread is a relevant public interest factor.'

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Thank you for the explanation, OC. First offence with the court then, not a sequence of events with the TOC? I'm glad I got some of it right. :)

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I suppose that seems to be the best advice - to wait for the letter. I realise the court summons can take anywhere between 1 week to half a year to arrive, how soon should I expect the letter from the TOC? From what I've read on here, it can be counter-productive to contact the TOC before they contact us so I will definitely wait before responding.

 

I am a sort of person who really doesn't like to sit around and wait I suppose, and i feel that any information I can gather is going to help me make a better decision when the time comes. For now I'll sit tight, but I do have questions on the subject.

 

By stating the concerns of public interest of the CPS (namely that fare evasion is the principle form of dishonesty & is widespread), does that mean prosecution will be more likely as the offence has been committed that is relevant to public interest, or is it that prosecution will take place in order to limit the offences committed in the public interest? i.e. Does it only consider the action in the past, or is there a consideration on the unlikelihood of repeated offence and/or raising of awareness amongst peers that would in effect be favourable in the public interest?

 

We really did not realise the seriousness of the offence and also feel that in general students don't know this. My current train of thinking is that the public interest would have been served on this occasion - there is 0% chance we will commit an offence ever again and we are likely to educate our peers, additionally, we would probably be prepared to pay the maximum fine, given the disproportionate effect a CR would have on our budding careers. Are these factors that would be considered at all, or am I going down the wrong track of thinking?

 

Any input here would be great, and thanks again HB and OC for taking the time to construct a helpful response.

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It may be sophistry, but you talk of getting a fine but no criminal record. You can't get a fine without the other, as only a court can fine you if found guilty.

 

If you are seeking an "alternative disposition" to court, then you can't be 'fined' by the TOC. They might ask you to pay an administrative penalty and costs ; you might want to ask them to consider this but avoid using the term 'fine'.

 

In the end both are you paying money, but there is that subtle distinction that a fine goes to the court (though the TOC can apply for their costs too), while the admin penalty goes to the TOC, and if it never goes to court there is no criminal record.

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The timescale quoted for receiving a letter from TfL is 4-6 weeks, I believe, can be longer if they're busy.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Actually, Bazzas, that was a very useful distinction - I realise that incorrect wording could really create a misunderstanding that wouldn't be desirable. In correspondence, would I then be suggesting "a reasonable administrative penalty and costs"? I realise this seems to be the most suggested form of wording, is it unwise to include a specific amount? I have mentioned that I am willing to take a penalty in excess of £750, however, I fear that including a figure may possibly be construed as a bribe of some sort. If i were to go down this path I feel that wording like, "I suggest an administrative penalty and costs up to £750 and/or a caution in order to avoid court action" - can this be improved?

 

In addition, can anyone offer advice on the other queries I had?

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Me again, sorry. I don't know who's around at the moment.

 

If you don't mind my saying, the guys don't normally suggest saying you're 'willing' or 'suggest' paying a penalty, etc. OC usually suggests asking whether the TOC would be willing to accept... because it's their choice and not yours.

 

But as you know, we don't know what we're up against yet because there is no letter. :)

 

Would you mind summing up your outstanding queries in bullet-point form please?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I would not get too hung up on the issue of public interest in this instance. The fact is that we are judged on our actions & deeds, not what may or may not occur in the future. You have made clear that the act of using someone else's card is not denied.

 

When the letter arrives you will have a chance to write to the TOC in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the alleged offence that has already been identified by them.

 

I would certainly not advocate offering any particular unsolicited sum. An offer 'to pay any outstanding fares and the company's reasonably incurred costs' would be the sort of wording that I suggest is more appropriate

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I think the sum of your answers have answered most of my queries as before. I seem to just be thinking up new questions all the time to get a better handle of what is happening.

 

When the letter arrives you will have a chance to write to the TOC in an attempt to mitigate the effects of the alleged offence that has already been identified by them.

 

I would certainly not advocate offering any particular unsolicited sum. An offer 'to pay any outstanding fares and the company's reasonably incurred costs' would be the sort of wording that I suggest is more appropriate

 

Thank you for the advice on the suggestion to avoid court action. In reference to "mitigating the effects" of the alleged offence - in what way can the effects be mitigated from the prosecution manager's point of view? Is the only form of mitigation in my instance not being called to court?

 

It brings me onto another point which may not be so relevant: how is a penalty considered proportionate to a crime? For example, it would be disproportionate to pay £5,000 for fare evasion (or is it? this is my opinion), yet on the other hand, it could be deemed that the impact of a criminal record could be greater than a £5,000 fine. Is there the prospect of pointing out that the effect of a criminal record could be disproportionate in that respect, thus implying that we would rather incur a large penalty to cover costs?

 

Currently these are my only questions, and I'm grateful for all of your answers that have informed me quite well on my options. I am likely to continue to research the area as that's in my nature, but I know that the advice is to wait for the letter, at which point advice can be better targeted for me. If you can help me with this information I'd be really thankful.

 

I am also curious - are you forum regulars mostly just frequent forum goers who begun from someone like myself, or is it more normal to be involved within the relevant businesses? (I have come to know that there are some prosecution managers/supervisors/ticket inspectors and all sorts around here!)

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style="text-align:center;"> Please note that this topic has not had any new posts for the last 2405 days.

If you are trying to post a different story then you should start your own new thread. Posting on this thread is likely to mean that you won't get the help and advice that you need.

If you are trying to post information which is relevant to the story in this thread then please flag it up to the site team and they will allow you to post.

Thank you
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