Prosecutions for transport-related offences are increasing. Previously, those who were investigated in respect of fare evasions might expect to be warned about their future conduct, or might have to pay a penalty fare. Now, however, transport operators’ attitudes have hardened, with a number of transport operators taking its passengers to Court in respect of fare evasion allegations.
Such proceedings can be brought under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, the Railway Byelaws, or, in some cases, the Fraud Act 2006. Some have allegations of dishonesty attached to them, and convictions for fare evasion can have very significant consequences for individuals. This is particularly true, for those for whom such a conviction would trigger an obligation to notify their professional regulators, who might then (separately) take disciplinary action.
Passengers may face a fare evasion investigation if they fail to purchase a ticket before travelling, deliberately avoid a conductor checking tickets, travel on another’s season ticket or railcard, or intentionally travel beyond the destination on the train ticket they have purchased. These are simply examples and other circumstances may exist where an investigation may be commenced.
How can we help?
If you have been stopped by a Revenue Protection Officer acting on behalf of a transport company, and have been notified that you may be investigated for a transport-related offence, it is essential that you seek advice as soon as possible. This is particularly important given the significant personal consequences that can follow in the event of a criminal conviction.
Our team has acted for a number of individuals, who have been accused of fare evasion. In some circumstances, we have been able to make forceful representations to the transport companies’ agents to highlight deviations from published enforcement policies. Some instances there have been failures to follow procedures laid down, resulting in the discontinuance of criminal proceedings. In other cases, we have persuaded transport operators to offer out-of-court settlements (sometimes known as Administrative Settlements). This involves the person being investigated giving a written assurance not to repeat the behaviour that gave rise to the investigation. They would also need to pay the operator’s costs in investigating the matter. Such a settlement avoids criminal proceedings and may be crucial in keeping an individual conviction-free; especially where a conviction might have an effect on an individual’s professional life.