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Don’t prosecute first-time transport fare evaders

Comment 9th July 2010

Transport authorities such as Transport for London should not bring criminal prosecutions against someone for fare dodging on the first occasion on which they are caught. They should impose a fixed penalty fine instead.

Why does this matter?

It is disproportionate and illiberal to give someone a criminal record for a single minor misdemeanour such as failing to pay a £2 tube or bus fare. It is also a waste of the public resources involved in preparing a prosecution. Fixed penalty fines administered on the spot should provide sufficient deterrence and punishment for non-persistent offenders, with prosecution reserved for recidivists. How would motorists react to being prosecuted for overstaying at a parking meter on the first occasion?

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