July 20, 2024

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UK train operators review thousands of fare evasion prosecutions

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Five of the UK’s biggest train operators have said they are reviewing fare-evasion prosecutions that date back years after a court cast doubt on the validity of an estimated 75,000 criminal convictions.

DfT OLR Holdings (DOHL), the government-owned company that runs services across the Southeastern, Northern Rail, TransPennine Express and LNER networks, said on Friday in a statement that it was reviewing prosecutions at all four of its operations.

Greater Anglia, which operates services from London Liverpool Street to Essex and East Anglia, also said it was reviewing past prosecutions.

The review comes after six “test cases” of fare evasion this week at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The chief magistrate said the defendants had been notified by the court service that their convictions were “probably unlawful”.

The test cases involved prosecutions brought by train operators through the “single justice procedure” (SJP) process, set up under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

The SJP allows minor criminal cases to be heard privately by magistrates rather than in open court.

Many train operators have brought prosecutions for fare evasion under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

However, the 2015 legislation did not allow rail companies, as private prosecutors, to use the 1889 act under the fast-track SJP process, making an estimated 75,000 cases potentially unlawful.

DOHL said it remained committed to ensuring passengers had a valid ticket. But it added: “DOHL train operators stopped bringing new cases under the single justice procedure for offences under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 in January and are reviewing its previous use.”

Greater Anglia said it had stopped prosecutions under the SJP in March. “We are currently reviewing previous cases, and any associated implications, taking into account any further…

2024-06-21 08:44:47

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