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
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.