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As you can probably tell I am new to this site, but have been reading some of these entries relating to far evasion for while with interest.

Whilst I agree with the general sentiment that it is clearly a crime of dishonesty and should be punished, I am quite shocked to hear that the penalties for first time offenders who have made a mistake are so high (ie criminal record + £500+ fine)?

 

I was always of the opinion that punishment should fit the crime, and in these instances (forgive me if i have misunderstood the charges) these seem like petty offences (unless of course one is a serial evader).

 

Hence it strikes me as somewhat unjust that a first time fare evasion offence (whether intentional or not) can end up with a criminal record, when far more serious violent crimes frequently attract lower penalties (see link below).

 

 

apparently am not allowed to post links but there is a good article in the daily mail published may 2013 highlighting my point /Metropolitan-Police-cautions-quarter-ALL-crimes-including-rapes-drug-trafficking-robbery.html[/url]

 

dont get me wrong, am not saying these petty crimes should not be punished, just that i cant help wonder if the current punishment is disproportionate compared with violent crimes ?

 

Would like to get the opinion of the people on this forum who seem to be very knowledgable about the industry?

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As you can probably tell I am new to this site, but have been reading some of these entries relating to far evasion for while with interest.

Whilst I agree with the general sentiment that it is clearly a crime of dishonesty and should be punished, I am quite shocked to hear that the penalties for first time offenders who have made a mistake are so high (ie criminal record + £500+ fine)?

 

I was always of the opinion that punishment should fit the crime, and in these instances (forgive me if i have misunderstood the charges) these seem like petty offences (unless of course one is a serial evader).

 

Hence it strikes me as somewhat unjust that a first time fare evasion offence (whether intentional or not) can end up with a criminal record, when far more serious violent crimes frequently attract lower penalties (see link below).

 

 

apparently am not allowed to post links but there is a good article in the daily mail published may 2013 highlighting my point /Metropolitan-Police-cautions-quarter-ALL-crimes-including-rapes-drug-trafficking-robbery.html[/url]

 

dont get me wrong, am not saying these petty crimes should not be punished, just that i cant help wonder if the current punishment is disproportionate compared with violent crimes ?

 

Would like to get the opinion of the people on this forum who seem to be very knowledgeable about the industry?

 

Strong penalties are required as a deterrent. There are easily thousands more people who can, and will, justify fare evasion, then there is those who can justify rape, murder etc. I'd also bet that far more people actually turn up at court for a murder trial then a fare evasion one.

 

It is also the taxpayer that ultimately foots the bill for fare evasion, even when a freedom pass isn't involved. TOCs generally receive a high level of government subsidy to cover their operating losses, fare evasion obviously eats away at potential re-investment etc, ultimately contributing to an overall poorer travelling experience.

 

Finally, I would say around 30%-40% of people prosecuted are worth stopping for other reasons too. People committing intentional fare evasion are often also responsible for other anti-social behaviour/activities. There have been plenty of times a simple Penalty Fare job has resulted in BTP turning up and finding out there is a warrant out for their arrest, usually for a drug related, or violent crime.

 

(Although I would also say that the CPS could do with a good kick up their backside. They need prosecutors with real specialty in the cases they are trying, prosecutors don't specialise in all areas of the criminal law and, as such, leave themselves wide open to decent defence lawyers. Railway prosecutors are, or should be, experts in the field, and should put convincing, and subsequently successful arguments to a court).

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Hello blubber.

 

I've started a new thread for this discussion, rather than sidetrack someone else's thread. Please continue to post on this one.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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sorry HoneyBee - didnt meant to hijack someone elses thread -- just learning the rules!!

 

thanks firstclass for your answer -- whilst i don't disagree overall with your sentiment, there are a few points i think are worth discussing:

 

1. just playing devil's advocate re: the deterrence part.....one could argue that a first time offender who has to pay a massive fine and is threatened with a criminal record for a repeat offence is probably MORE of a deterrent to reoffending than handing out the criiminal record straight away -- after all what is to stop the offender thinking he has nothing to lose by doing it again if he already has a record?

 

2. is 30-40% of offenders have done other other crimes, then i would argue they are not first time offenders (even if first time on fares)

 

my point was only, no matter what the type of evasion, if it a first time and no other history of this or any other type of offence, ie genuine one-off offence, with no or minimal risk of reoffence, as having been caught and fined has educated the offender -- isn't a criminal record disproportionate for the crime?

 

I agree you need to set a high deterrent? but surely the same goes for violent crime too??!! something to me just doesnt seem right that there is no inbetween to not get a criminal record for this, when for pretty much all other crimes there are lower penalties for first time offence. For example (i know this is slightly irrelevant but something that i guess makes my opinion on this) i know someone that was being abused/harassed by their neighbour for 2 years, and because the guilty party admitted it and had never been in trouble before with the police, they just let him off with a warning. So someone that can inflict harm on other people and make their lives a misery doesnt get a record as it was their first time, but someone that uses wrong ticket on a bus can end up paying for life. just doesnt seem fair to me.

 

also with the deterrent argument, it seems that their is NO DIFFERENCE is penalty if you do it the first time or do it again?? or have i got that wrong? if right, it actually strengthens my argument that first time offenders should ahve a lower penalty??

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It's rare that a Byelaw offence (Not Regulation of Railways Act 1889, which is fare evasion basically) attracts a fine of more than £200. Obviously once costs are taken in to account etc it can amount to double that, but the fine itself is usually around £200, al depending on means etc. Also, Byelaws are non recordable, so where in effect you do get a criminal record as far as the courts are concerned (Byelaws are criminal matters, the same as Fare evasion is), it's not recorded on the Police National Computer therefore is only a record in that you've been found guilty of a criminal offence. Fare evasion is a deliberate act and attracts higher penalties, where byelaw breaches for ticketing are where intent to avoid payment cannot be reasonably proved, and thus is the lesser crime.

 

The idea of Penalty Fare schemes is that they deter fare evasion and are intended for first time offences where an innocent mistake has occurred. Staff aren't obliged to issue a Penalty Fare where they are in force, but often exercise their discretion. It's funny actually, the amount of people that don't want to pay £20 for a Penalty Fare and kick up merry hell, yet don't mind being reported. I guess it's the fact that when being reported, you're not asking for £20, lol.

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1. just playing devil's advocate re: the deterrence part.....one could argue that a first time offender who has to pay a massive fine and is threatened with a criminal record for a repeat offence is probably MORE of a deterrent to reoffending than handing out the criiminal record straight away -- after all what is to stop the offender thinking he has nothing to lose by doing it again if he already has a record?

 

 

"What is to stop them thinking they have nothing to lose by doing it again if he already has a record" .... RRA 1889 S5.3

They can't go to prison for a first offence, but can for a subsequent offence.

 

he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or, in the case of a second or subsequent offence, either to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or in the discretion of the court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/52-53/57/section/5

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thanks bazza -- ok so i was wrong and there is increased penalty for repeat offence .....but penalty for first offence is still very high.

yes thanks citizen B that was the link -- i couldnt post it as i was new to the site

 

 

thanks for your response Stigy -- "penalty fares where innocent mistakes have occurred" - if it is proven it was an innocent mistake, surely there should be no penalty?!

 

that is funny re paying penalty versus being reported and i think if people refuse to pay penalties or persistently evade i can see that all the penalties discussed should apply.

 

my initial thought was triggered by the sheer number of people on this forum that are reporting being prosecuted for FIRST TIME offences -- ok some admit offence, some claim mistake etc.....but my immediate thoughts were , if first time and proven, why not a lesser penalty first time. there is still deterrent for repeat offence.

 

and just in the grand scheme of things, because dont know much about this bit of the law.....but when the CPS is trying to try more cases out of court than in because of the effort and cost involved, why does this bit of transport law seemingly seek to do the opposite?

 

ie does everyone on here really believe it is fair/consistent to get criminal record for first time fare evasion, but not for GBH, harassment, child porn etc?!

 

basically am making a rationality argument here - am not disgareeing with firstclass re deterrent issue, but surely you can't just put the penalty for evasion hgiher than GBH just because people need to be deterred more?? what about punishment fitting the crime???

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thanks for your response Stigy -- "penalty fares where innocent mistakes have occurred" - if it is proven it was an innocent mistake, surely there should be no penalty?!

 

 

Is there such a thing as a non-innocent mistake?

 

However, it is the responsibility of the traveller to have / show on demand a ticket. Even if there was an 'innocent mistake', if they have breached this responsibility, why no penalty? Why not a penalty fare in recognition of:

1) the breach of responsibility, but

2) acceptance there was no intent to avoid a fare?.

 

If a Train Manager / RPI is convinced there is an complete mistake they don't have to issue a penalty fare, they might choose to issue a ticket. They don't have to : if you don't show a valid ticket on demand in a penalty fare area they can issue a penalty fare.

To issue a penalty fare the staff member must believe there was no intent to avoid a fare.

 

If the staff believe there was intent to avoid a fare, they will issue a report for consideration of prosecution.

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It is a deterrent if and only-if potential offenders are made known the possible consequences BEFORE they commit the offences. At the moment my biggest objections are that the warning are insufficient at best and in many cases even misleading.

 

In most stations and in the trains. The warnings are worded in such a way that I think for most travellers it would mean: if caught without a valid ticket then need to pay a penalty fare, and only in very rare occasions (aka serious) do they consider taking you to court (may be civil).

 

Not a single warning posters or signs in stations or carriages I have encountered mentions "criminal offence" or "criminal record".

 

In most cases the travellers only finds out the prospects of receiving a dreaded criminal record of a criminal record AFTER they are told they are facing prosecution.

 

A much better warning would be:

 

Travelling on trains without valid tickets is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE and it is the customer's legal responsibility to ensure the validity of their ticket.

 

Shorter:

 

Travelling without valid ticket is a criminal offence.

 

I can bet with you that this is a much better warning than what is available now.

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It is a deterrent if and only-if potential offenders are made known the possible consequences BEFORE they commit the offences. At the moment my biggest objections are that the warning are insufficient at best and in many cases even misleading.

 

In most stations and in the trains. The warnings are worded in such a way that I think for most travellers it would mean: if caught without a valid ticket then need to pay a penalty fare, and only in very rare occasions (aka serious) do they consider taking you to court (may be civil).

 

Not a single warning posters or signs in stations or carriages I have encountered mentions "criminal offence" or "criminal record".

 

In most cases the travellers only finds out the prospects of receiving a dreaded criminal record of a criminal record AFTER they are told they are facing prosecution.

 

A much better warning would be:

 

Travelling on trains without valid tickets is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE and it is the customer's legal responsibility to ensure the validity of their ticket.

 

Shorter:

 

Travelling without valid ticket is a criminal offence.

 

I can bet with you that this is a much better warning than what is available now.

 

London Midland had LARGE posters on the platforms of at least 3 of their stations listing those people it had successfully taken to court in a previous month, and noted that they had been fined and received criminal records.

 

I can't understand how people can feel that fare dodging isn't a crime, but agree that education of rail users is the way forward regarding the need to have a valid ticket before boarding, that "arriving late at the station and not having time to buy a ticket" isn't a defence at law, and that whilst you MIGHT be able to "buy a ticket on the train" there is no guarantee that you'll be allowed to do so, since it is the user's responsibility to do so before boarding in most circumstances. In particular, the fact that someone has bought a ticket on the train before doesn't mean that it isn't an offence.

 

I'd also repeat my advice that if offered a penalty fare (even if you disagree), accept the form, and then appeal. Getting 'arsey' with the staff member offering a penalty fare will likely lead to a report for prosecution : argue your case with the appeals body instead of the member of staff, and you won't risk a criminal record.

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wtlh - i think that is a great reply and wholeheartedly agree -- there just seem to be too many people on here who find out the hard way and are genuinely sorry (tho appreciate not all who just make excuses) ..

 

i guess some people will counter that by saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but what i fear is that the "common sense element" is missing ...in that with something much more serious like GBH, murder, clearly any human being can recognise that this is bad and will result in harsh penalty, but with fare dodging, yes understand it is wrong, but as wrong as many other minor wrong doings that probably many many people have made in their lives and dont realise how bad it is (not saying that's an excuse, but shouldnt this be considered in the penalty)-- didnt george osborne fare evade a couple of times? what about the mp expense scandal? how many people got crimincal records for that?

 

I think having warnings that fare evading is CRIMINAL on all the buses and tubes would be the BEST DETTERRENT......otherwise i would suspect that MOST people dont know this. I certainly didnt until i accidently came across these threads looking for somethign completely different.

 

have noticed that most people seem to justify the fare evading penalty (tho thanks for your expalnation about the mistake element - that makes sense, as there is penalty but is not that harsh).....but everyone seems to avoid the question about "IS IT RIGHT TO PROSECUTE SOMEONE OF FIRST TIME FARE EVASION (am taking the more serious intent charge here as an example) WHEN YOU DONT HAVE TO PROSECUTE FOR FIRST TIME GBH (for eg/).

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have noticed that most people seem to justify the fare evading penalty (tho thanks for your expalnation about the mistake element - that makes sense, as there is penalty but is not that harsh).....but everyone seems to avoid the question about "IS IT RIGHT TO PROSECUTE SOMEONE OF FIRST TIME FARE EVASION (am taking the more serious intent charge here as an example) WHEN YOU DONT HAVE TO PROSECUTE FOR FIRST TIME GBH (for eg/).

 

I agree with you. However, are you suggesting that the answer to that problem is not to prosecute the first time deliberate fare dodger? (is it their first time fare dodging, or first time caught??)

OR : prosecute GBH even for a first offence, given the seriousness of GBH.

 

The TOC's are usually the agency bringing a fare evasion prosecution, it is rare for the CPS to do so.

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The majority of "First time" offences are usually dealt with by way of an out of court settlement so the big fines will usually be because the offender decides to ignor all correspondence and they get found guilty in their absence with no plea, generally the person who pleads guilty by post will recieve a much lesser fine and someone who appears and pleads guilty will usually get a very light sentence such as a conditional discharge.


Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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thanks bazza.....dont know what the solution is - I guess either / or but at the moment the rules are inconsistent.

 

I mean yes i see GBH as pretty serious so it would make much more sense for a harsher penalty for first time offence there than for the fares as someone is inflicting actual harm on another. I understand the fare argument is inflicting harm in a different way, lost payment etc....but is not of the same magnitude as GBH.

 

also i was agreeing with the previous poster in that if the main point of the harsh penalty is DETERRENT then surely this hould be plastered everywhere on the buses and trains etc so everyones knows.

 

eg. i remember all that disabled blue badge thing being in the news a fair bit so i think most people would know about the ramnifications of this, but i think it is clear from these threads that most people dont know that this is the same for someone else's concessionary pass -- though i guess same rule applies.

 

Either way, i guess the point i am trying to make is what is the AIM of the TOC is conviction?

1. if deterrent - surely the threat for repeat offence is enough

2. if revenue, then it sounds like they would get more settling out of court

3. if it is clear that the risk of reoffence is minimal and the first time offender admits guilt and is truly sorry and knows a repeat offence will result in a conviction then what is the AIM of the TOC in continuing to proescute other than retribution?

 

i would have thought that it would be better for everyone all round to not drag it through the courts so they can deal with mroe major offences, no?

 

Thanks RPI for your comments, - that makes sense if that's the case, but from what ive been reading from these forums is that does not seem to be happening for first time offenders who use other people's passes for example? or maybe it does and it's just the few that post on here that are prosecuted, but from others' answers it almost seems the other way round ie most are prosecuted and very few get settled out of court as the legislation says you CAN convict for first time offences?

 

also what is a conditional discharge? does that mean you get a criminal ercord or not?

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thanks bazza.....dont know what the solution is - I guess either / or but at the moment the rules are inconsistent.

 

I mean yes i see GBH as pretty serious so it would make much more sense for a harsher penalty for first time offence there than for the fares as someone is inflicting actual harm on another. I understand the fare argument is inflicting harm in a different way, lost payment etc....but is not of the same magnitude as GBH.

 

also i was agreeing with the previous poster in that if the main point of the harsh penalty is DETERRENT then surely this hould be plastered everywhere on the buses and trains etc so everyones knows.

 

eg. i remember all that disabled blue badge thing being in the news a fair bit so i think most people would know about the ramnifications of this, but i think it is clear from these threads that most people dont know that this is the same for someone else's concessionary pass -- though i guess same rule applies.

 

Either way, i guess the point i am trying to make is what is the AIM of the TOC is conviction?

1. if deterrent - surely the threat for repeat offence is enough

2. if revenue, then it sounds like they would get more settling out of court

3. if it is clear that the risk of reoffence is minimal and the first time offender admits guilt and is truly sorry and knows a repeat offence will result in a conviction then what is the AIM of the TOC in continuing to proescute other than retribution?

 

i would have thought that it would be better for everyone all round to not drag it through the courts so they can deal with mroe major offences, no?

 

Thanks RPI for your comments, - that makes sense if that's the case, but from what ive been reading from these forums is that does not seem to be happening for first time offenders who use other people's passes for example? or maybe it does and it's just the few that post on here that are prosecuted, but from others' answers it almost seems the other way round ie most are prosecuted and very few get settled out of court as the legislation says you CAN convict for first time offences?

 

also what is a conditional discharge? does that mean you get a criminal ercord or not?

 

"that does not seem to be happening for first time offenders who use other people's passes" is 'shifting the goalposts' considering you we're talking about people making an "honest mistake". The person the pass is issued to signs for the T's & C's so knows it isn't transferable, while the person receiving the pass knows it comes with someone elses's photopass!

 

It appears you'll agree with me when I'm saying what you want to hear (leniency / rail user education), but disregard the bits you don't want (prosecution of pass abuse, that TOC's have had programmes to warn users of the penalties, and that the solution to the fare evasion / GBH disparity you cite is not to not prosecute evasion but prosecute more GBH)

 

The CPS also have to apply a test to their GBH prosecutions : both 'public interest' & 'realistic prospect of success".

I can see how both fare evasion and GBH prosecutions easily pass 'public interest' : perhaps there are differences in realistic prospect of success between a GBH and a Bylaw 18 prosecution (or a RRA S.5 prosecution with good supporting report / documentation).

 

From your posts I conclude you have already decided fare evasion shouldn't go to court for a first offence.

Thing is : how do you know how many of those people had already had warnings? or that it was clear to the TOC (and / or the court) that this was fare evasion rather than an. "Innocent mistake"?

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bazza think you have misunderstood me

 

i do agree with you that first time gbh offences should be harsher

 

but i also think first time fare evasion should be a lesser penalty due to reasons suggested

 

am not sure why you think im picking and choosing...... i agree if someone has previously had a warning, or refused to pay fine or is serial evader should go to court.....i am only saying First time offences (mistake or intent) should be lesser penalty...

 

and you didnt actually answer my question :) .....in that, what is the AIM of the ToC in persisting IF it is deemed reoffence is minimal for first time offence? shouldnt TOCs use their discretion in these cases? obviously if they have done and have decided to pursue anyway then fair enuf, but it seems from the posts that they automatically try to prosecute.

 

apologies if this is wrong...but this it what all the posts tell me as the advice is always try to settle out of court but highly unlikely.

 

i am just asking why it should be so for first time offence -- i don think there is any inconsistency in my argument?

 

was just trying to see what people thought about the legislation in this area compared to all others ie see the bigger picture......

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bazza think you have misunderstood me

 

i do agree with you that first time gbh offences should be harsher

 

but i also think first time fare evasion should be a lesser penalty due to reasons suggested

 

am not sure why you think im picking and choosing...... i agree if someone has previously had a warning, or refused to pay fine or is serial evader should go to court.....i am only saying First time offences (mistake or intent) should be lesser penalty...

 

and you didnt actually answer my question :) .....in that, what is the AIM of the ToC in persisting IF it is deemed reoffence is minimal for first time offence? shouldnt TOCs use their discretion in these cases? obviously if they have done and have decided to pursue anyway then fair enuf, but it seems from the posts that they automatically try to prosecute.

 

apologies if this is wrong...but this it what all the posts tell me as the advice is always try to settle out of court but highly unlikely.

 

i am just asking why it should be so for first time offence -- i don think there is any inconsistency in my argument?

 

was just trying to see what people thought about the legislation in this area compared to all others ie see the bigger picture......

 

Hello again. Bazza and I are not from the rail industry. Maybe someone like Old-CodJA will turn up at some point when he's free to explain the overview.

 

My understanding is that there is a lot of statute underlying railway prosecutions that is not evident to the normal traveller. However, it has stood the test of time for decades and centuries.

 

Fwiw, people here have settled out of court, but fare evasion is costing millions and putting up fares for the people who do pay.

 

Part of your argument, which has happened here before, seems to be to do with changing the law. This is a rather longer route, as you might imagine, and the job of Parliament. For the time being, we have to operate within the law as it stands whether we like it or not.

 

Are you mounting some sort of campaign about this or are you involved in a fare evasion case please?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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hi HB,

actually neither......my interest in law was more related to the initial article I tried to post relating to more violent crimes and the need for harsher penalties there, overuse of cautions etc.....in researching all of that I came across a few articles regarding harsher penalties for lesser crimes and then accidentally came across these threads which i was reading with interst for a while before posting anything.

Actually one of the other articles i came across was people being prosecuted by a train company for putting their feet on seats!! now again.....am not sure what the law says here, but to me this seems even less of a crime than the fare issue.

Bazza- i dont think anyone was saying fare evasion wasn't a crime,only that is was a lesser crime than many others, hence the penalty should fit the crime and my opinion was that first time offenders perhaps should have lower penalty. obiovusly you dont agree and thats fine!

HB - take your point re: laws changing etc, but my understanding that was even working with what we have now that TOCs should use discretion? dont some of the laws say , as bazza says, that you should have tickets on all trains beforehand ...but many train companies allow you to buy tickets on trains......so obviously they must use discretion in those cases??

i was just generically wondering whether people here believed that the punishment does fit the crime and if so does everyone hence think that all the violent crimes i mentioned should all have even more hash penalties. my big picture view was if the courts are being clogged up with so many fare evader, feet on seats and whatever other cases, is this stopping more serious crimes being tried? and thus is this is public interest?

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hi HB,

actually neither......my interest in law was more related to the initial article I tried to post relating to more violent crimes and the need for harsher penalties there, overuse of cautions etc.....in researching all of that I came across a few articles regarding harsher penalties for lesser crimes and then accidentally came across these threads which i was reading with interst for a while before posting anything.

Actually one of the other articles i came across was people being prosecuted by a train company for putting their feet on seats!! now again.....am not sure what the law says here, but to me this seems even less of a crime than the fare issue.

Bazza- i dont think anyone was saying fare evasion wasn't a crime,only that is was a lesser crime than many others, hence the penalty should fit the crime and my opinion was that first time offenders perhaps should have lower penalty. obiovusly you dont agree and thats fine!

HB - take your point re: laws changing etc, but my understanding that was even working with what we have now that TOCs should use discretion? dont some of the laws say , as bazza says, that you should have tickets on all trains beforehand ...but many train companies allow you to buy tickets on trains......so obviously they must use discretion in those cases??

i was just generically wondering whether people here believed that the punishment does fit the crime and if so does everyone hence think that all the violent crimes i mentioned should all have even more hash penalties.

 

Feet on seats? low numbers of prosecutions : I imagine for when people have been asked to be sensible / consider others and have instead not behaved civilly & argued with the staff.

 

Lower penalty for first time offenders?. I've offered advice a number of times on CAG to help people mitigate the effects on them. I've offered advice on this thread about people accepting the issue of a penalty fare and then appealing it. I don't see how you reach your conclusion of "my opinion was that first time offenders perhaps should have lower penalty. obiovusly you dont agree". To make my view clear : the courts have extensive statute and case law. The TOC's usually write to people in response to reports of alleged offence(s) asking for their comments. If convicted the court assess any fine based on the information they have. There is plenty of room for discretion : so, if you feel 1st time offences need a lower penalty: what exactly are you arguing for, and what framework are you proposing the TOCs and court use to apply it?.

 

discretion? you seem to be both arguing for discretion and against it..... so, when do you want them to show discretion and when not?.

 

harsher penalty / more 1st time prosecutions for GBH : already answered above.

 

my big picture view was if the courts are being clogged up with so many fare evader, feet on seats and whatever other cases, is this stopping more serious crimes being tried? and thus is this is public interest?

 

"public interest" was one of the CPS's markers to proceed with a case. Is there any evidence that fare evasion cases are "clogging up the courts?", if not, then are you raising "public interest" as an actual point, or a "straw man"?.

Edited by BazzaS

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apologies if this is wrong...but this it what all the posts tell me as the advice is always try to settle out of court but highly unlikely.

 

Apology accepted for you being wrong.

"try to settle out of court but highly unlikely." applies to e.g. Freedom Pass abuse, rather than an "innocent mistake", as it is the pass abuse where it is very rare to persuade a TOC to not proceed to court.

 

Just as you have conflated "GBH should be taken to court more / dealt with more severely " with "First time fare offences should be taken to court less / dealt with less severely", you are conflating "penalty fare for e.g. Mislaid ticket" with "fare evasion" and "pass abuse".

 

If you break down what your point is more clearly, differentiating between the acts of the rail user / the offence(s) alleged and how you feel they should be dealt with, it'll be easier to see what you are actually saying and debate it : rather than your current mish-mash which seems to want to suggest that GBH gets treated more leniently than a lost ticket on a frequent basis (does it?), while the courts are clogged up with fare evasion cases to the detriment of other prosecutions (are they?), while you haven't yet produced either:

a) examples to back this up (though there will always be cases at the extremes, there are usually reasons behind them : give us the examples and we can examine them!), or

b) told us how you feel this should be approached (process to decide when a warning, when to prosecute, sentencing guidelines and so on)

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London Midland had LARGE posters on the platforms of at least 3 of their stations listing those people it had successfully taken to court in a previous month, and noted that they had been fined and received criminal records.

 

I have never been to any of the stations you have described, but if true then London Midland is heading towards the right direction. However they are definitely the minority of ToC today (at least in London area) that actually mentions criminal element of fare dodging in any form at all at any stations or on their trains.

 

I can't understand how people can feel that fare dodging isn't a crime, but agree that education of rail users is the way forward regarding the need to have a valid ticket before boarding, that "arriving late at the station and not having time to buy a ticket" isn't a defence at law, and that whilst you MIGHT be able to "buy a ticket on the train" there is no guarantee that you'll be allowed to do so, since it is the user's responsibility to do so before boarding in most circumstances. In particular, the fact that someone has bought a ticket on the train before doesn't mean that it isn't an offence.

 

For industry insiders and people who regularly visit forums like this, the rules and regulations seems obvious. However I can bet with you that it is not obvious for average Joe on the street. Everyone would equate not paying the fare for the entire journey is an act of dishonesty, like stealing. However, it would not be so clear intuitively to them that basically if you board a train without a valid ticket, irrespective of your intentions---e.g. paying on-board---, or with a pre-paid travel card (not in your name, but given to you by someone) that you are already breaking the law and are wide open to criminal prosecutions and are entirely at the mercy of the ToC staffs.

 

One can argue that all rules are clearly stated in the terms of conditions etc. I wish to ask members of this forum how many actually read every small-print terms of conditions fully when they purchase a mobile phone, or open a bank, switching a gas supplier, or even when purchasing a air-line ticket etc. I can safely say that most average people views the trains as just another form of commercial service provider similar to phones, gas etc. And with all these service providers, in case of any disputes they usually try to resolve the problems with you and give you plenty of warnings before taking legal actions, and most of these actions will be civil. And that is where a lot of confusions lie, even for experienced lawyers outside the rail-industry, who often mistakes the rail-prosecutions as a civil matter. So there is in general of false sense of security in terms of making silly mistakes, and there is no great urge to read the actual rule and regulations.

 

In the case of rail regulations and terms of conditions, it is actually pretty complex, so complex that it has to be printed in a separate booklet or as an online document, and so when you purchase a ticket, you will have to be bothered enough to first read the small prints, and then follow the small prints to ask the ToC staff or go online to see the actual small prints. Do most people do that? And common-sense of what is a criminal act does not always relate to what is being criminal in the eyes of industry insiders.

 

An example: I have seen countless times at large rail-terminals or airports, with well intentioned travellers giving away their day ticket or weekly passes to people because they no longer need them. To them it is an act of good faith, helping out fellow travellers and not wasting a good ticket. For the rail operators it is a criminal action---in words of a few people on this forum: an act of theft and fraud. To a lot of innocent people, a travel card is viewed just as a discount associated with purchasing many trips in one-go, like many discounts that are offered in every walks of life.

 

Another example: There are also numerous occasions where people are allowed purchase tickets on trains, and receive no punishments what-so-ever, and these are seen by many other passengers, and thus giving a general feeling that buying a ticket on-board when the conductor comes is a generally acceptable behaviour. So do these "fare-dodgers" know they are acting as criminals? I really think that the majority do not think so, and may wrongly assume that they have the money in hand, and it is the TOC's responsibility to collect money from them.

 

Of course all these mis-interpretations and mis-understandings lead to a feeling of being wronged (or persecuted) when being stopped and questioned by a RPI---decreasing the likelihood of being offered a penalty fare, or accepting one on the basis of not wanting to be bullied into paying cash, which then leads to panic and fear when actually reading the rules and regulations and being advised by the rail-insiders here, and the willingness to pay at all costs to avoid being labeled a criminal. All of this can be avoided if the criminal element is made very clear from the beginning.

 

In my honest opinion, I think the laws are heavily skewed in the train companies' favour, and it is only right that the passengers should be better informed of the serious consequences that could happen to their life if not following the rail terms of conditions closely, in-order to protect them-selves against falling into the hands of mercy of the rail prosecutors.

 

I'd also repeat my advice that if offered a penalty fare (even if you disagree), accept the form, and then appeal. Getting 'arsey' with the staff member offering a penalty fare will likely lead to a report for prosecution : argue your case with the appeals body instead of the member of staff, and you won't risk a criminal record.

 

It is a good advice if people read this forum BEFORE they are being prosecuted. But how many do that? The TOCs should really put up advices like these in highly visible places in stations and carriages.

Edited by wtlh

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thanks wtlh for you excellent post

 

you have explained my point far better than my "mish mash" and my only addition would be to go one step further (and directly answer bazza's qn) and say that IMO, I do not agree that people should be handed out criminal records for first time fare evasion (whether intentional or not).

 

there has even been one revenue inspector on here who has posted that he left the job because serial evaders know what they are doing and "lie when cautioned" and escape prosecution, whereas it is usually the one-off's who post on sites like these that end up being prosecuted because they were honest when interviewed.

 

This is why as an impartial person reading these threads, I felt the need to challenge the current process as to a rational person it seemed unjust.

 

have heard that for shoplifting (ie direct stealing) if you hand back goods and say sorry you are let off for first time offence so why not for fare evasion? And this is something that would be perceived by most as a more serious crime.

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thanks wtlh for you excellent post

 

you have explained my point far better than my "mish mash" and my only addition would be to go one step further (and directly answer bazza's qn) and say that IMO, I do not agree that people should be handed out criminal records for first time fare evasion (whether intentional or not).

 

there has even been one revenue inspector on here who has posted that he left the job because serial evaders know what they are doing and "lie when cautioned" and escape prosecution, whereas it is usually the one-off's who post on sites like these that end up being prosecuted because they were honest when interviewed.

 

This is why as an impartial person reading these threads, I felt the need to challenge the current process as to a rational person it seemed unjust.

 

have heard that for shoplifting (ie direct stealing) if you hand back goods and say sorry you are let off for first time offence so why not for fare evasion? And this is something that would be perceived by most as a more serious crime.

 

"I do not agree that people should be handed out criminal records for first time fare evasion (whether intentional or not)."

 

Intentional fare evasion not receiving a criminal record? If it is intentional, why shouldn't it be a crime?.

 

"have heard that for shoplifting (ie direct stealing) if you hand back goods and say sorry you are let off for first time offence so why not for fare evasion?"

There you go again saying "a worse crime gets let off, so let off fare evasion", rather than "just ensure the worse crimes are prosecuted too"

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So bazza can I clarify....in your opinion....

 

EVERY FIRST TIME OFFENCE should result in a CRIMINAL RECORD? My personal opinion is that every first time offence for PETTY CRIME should result in a warning or caution as EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE. Obviously I am not talking about VIOLENT CRIMES HERE.

 

maybe the disagreement between us boils down to how serious one classes FARE EVASION compared to other other crimes? Obviously the LAW clearly seems to rate it very seriously given it allows TOCs to prosecute for first offences, but this is what wtlh explains quite nicely about the law being in favour of the TOCs....and upon first reading these posts I tend to agree.

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