Revenue enforcement officers with limited training in the law have been given draconian powers whilst working on behalf of TOCs (Train operating companies) and there intimate relationships with the magistrate courts to hand out criminal records to individuals who make a one off and careless mistake of travelling on the railway without purchasing a ticket often through no fault of there own. Whilst I am in total agreement that an offence committed of this nature should result in prosecution; prosecution should only arise if there is a nature of repetitive re-offending, or if a penalty fare that was issued to the defendant is not paid despite many reminders. The punishment is far to severe for a minor discretion that many people have only committed once whether intentionally or not and should only be reserved for recidivist fare evaders who are most often linked with more involved criminality.


Why is this idea important?

Prosecution for fare evasion is often timetabled for a full day wasting the courts time which could have been used for the prosecution of more serious offences.

To avoid the time and money wasted on issuing a court summons to an individual who will probably not attend if he pleads guilty, the revenue inspection officer should issue a penalty fare. If the penalty fare is not paid within a specific time despite various reminders the fine should increase. If it’s clear that the fine will not be paid by the individual then a court summons should be issued.

The railways are privatised so surely any prosecution should be a civil case instead of what is currently a criminal case.

The British Transport Police do not usually get involved with fare evasion cases unless there is a link with more serious criminality, instead Revenue Protection Officers investigate the incident and decide whether the individual should receive a penalty fare or a court summons.

Many Revenue Protection Officers choose the prosecution route without using a common sense approach to how this may affect an individual’s future.

The prosecution is usually through the railways in-house prosecutions team which means that if the defendant wishes to file a not guilty plea, he/she would have to finance legal representation out of there own pocket. Cases involving the police would be dealt with by the crown prosecution service and therefore the defendant would be entitled to legal aid through no cost to him/her. As a result of this many people especially students choose the not guilty decision as they cannot afford the legal fees.

Prosecution is through a magistrate’s court, with which they have a very strong working relationship with the TOC (train operating companies) and not through jury. Many people are unaware that travelling on the railway will result in a criminal record and are shocked many years later when this is revealed on a standard / enhanced disclosure through CRB.

This minor offence brands many normal, hardworking and upstanding members of the public as common criminals that are in league with habitual criminals who have committed more serious crimes thus eventually labelling everyone a criminal, which will make it hard to distinguish the individuals in which society really needs to be concerned about.

Although my thoughts are concerned with the ridiculous laws maintained under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, the ideas mentioned here would also apply to Bus fare evasion under the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, which in my opinion also needs to be refined.


6 Replies to “Section 5.3(a) of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 – Travelling on Railway without paying fare.”

  1. What you are saying here is it is ridiculous to be prosecuted for theft. The decision to prosecute is not made by the Revenue Officer. A penalty fare is not decided against for an arbitrary reason. Evidence and the actions of the person without a valid ticket determine whether the person is put forward for prosecution. Multiple cases are put forward to the courts. If this was a waste of court time as suggested, I think the courts would make this clear.

  2. I’d like some advice on fare evasion..

    if a person has for example used another persons oyster card with their permission would he/she still fined.. ? or get a criminal record for that matter.
    How does the Law work then ? cause there wasn’t an intent to do something dishonest. the individual was under the impression that he could do so.
    so do you have any idea how things would proceed.

    appreciate some feedback on this matter
    Regards 🙂

  3. Please check your use of English before posting such material, as poor grammar devalues your otherwise well made arguments.

    To be specific: “there” refers to a place, whereas “their” refers to ownership of something.

    In your text “courts time” should read “court’s time” and both “magistrates court” and “magistrate’s court” should read “magistrates’ court” (one court, more than one magistrate).

    1. The issues raised are legal ones and has nothing to do with grammar because EQUITY focuses on the substance and not the form. Legal matters do not have much to do with grammar so long as the substance of your case is clear. In fact, article 6 of the Convention allows for an interpreter to be appointed if you do not understand the language used in court.

  4. The OP leaves out the most important fact of S5(3)a.
    It creates an offence of travelling on the railway without previously paying your fare WITH INTENT TO AVOID PAYMENT.

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