When an individual is stopped by a TFL ticket inspector for fare evasion, they may be lucky enough to be offered an on-the-spot fine. There are times when the inspector decides against offering a fine. Instead you will receive a ‘TFL information request letter’, which TFL call a ‘Verification Letter’. The letter warns that ‘legal proceedings may be taken against you’.
TFL take a hardline when it comes to fare evasion, so the Verification Letters are sent out in a wide variety of circumstances. Often the issue may be the misuse of high value travel cards, such as Freedom Passes, 60+, Staff Nominee Passes, or 11-15 & 16+ zip cards. TFL will also send Verification letters to people who have entered an Overground platform without tapping on, even if they have not yet boarded a train.
Another example is where people are travelling via one of TFL’s train routes to Heathrow, Reading, Hayes or Shenfield. TFL will consider prosecuting those who have boarded without a ticket or have only paid for a part of a longer journey. There are other occasions where a railcard discount may have been misapplied to the ticket.
Misuse of a Freedom Pass is specifically cited in the TFL policy guidance as a reason for a prosecution and therefore it is clearly a scenario which TFL take extremely seriously.
Once the Inspector has referred the matter to the Prosecution’s Unit, the ‘Request for Information’ letter is sent out. You can see an example of one of these letters in the images below, and a full transcript can be found at the end of this page.
If you have received a verification letter from TfL in connection to an allegation please contact our team for proactive representation. Acting quickly increases the chances of avoiding prosecution and a criminal record.
How do I respond to the TFL letter?
Your response to TFL has legal ramifications and plays a critical role in deciding what happens next.
TFL allow 10 days for you to provide a response. The letter asks you to confirm the name and address of the ‘person being reported’ (i.e. you), as well as your date of birth and email address.
The critical section is where the letter asks ‘if you deny committing the offence, please explain why’. And ‘if you accept committing an offence please provide any exceptional reasons…’
The fare evasion bylaw, which TfL prosecute, is a ‘strict liability’ offence. This means that TFL do not have to prove that you were dishonest or you intentionally evaded the fare.
How can a solicitor help with an information request letter?
A TFL fare evasion solicitor can intervene at this stage by writing a detailed letter of representation on your behalf, arguing that a prosecution would be disproportionate and not in the public interest.
The aim would be to persuade TFL to issue a Formal Warning (rather than a prosecution). In some cases, TFL will allow the opportunity for individuals to repay the fares in question as part of a Withdrawal Agreement.
TFL will consider specific ‘mitigating’ factors in deciding whether it is appropriate to withdraw a prosecution. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the relevant factors and to outline them in a persuasive way. We tailor our representations accordingly. We have carefully considered TFL’s own policies and guidance, and use this to better represent our client’s case.
We would meet with you for a conference and take detailed instructions about your personal circumstances and plans for the future. We would also carefully explore what supporting documents can be obtained on your behalf to maximise your chance of success.
We often see clients who have panicked upon speaking to the Inspector and have given misinformation to various questions. In our experience, this is a point which needs to be carefully addressed in any reply to TFL.
What are my chances of success?
While we can never guarantee that TFL will agree to settle your matter out of court, we can promise to put you in the best possible position. Every case is different so please contact us if you would like specific advice with regard to the chances of success for your case.
We have perfected our approach for many years and as our testimonials show, we have consistently achieved excellent results.
Example of Verification Letter
Transport for London
Compliance, Policing, Operations and Security
9G4 Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ
On [DATE] you were reported to Transport for London (TfL) for an offence(s) on the TfL Public Transport Network. The facts of this incident are being considered and I must advise you that legal proceedings may be taken against you in accordance with Transport of London’s prosecution policy.
In order for TfL to deal with this case correctly, please return the information requested on the reverse of this letter, by e-mail to IAP@tfl.gov.uk within 10 days, including the case number stated above. Alternatively, you can send the letter by post.
You do not have to reply to this letter but it may harm your defence if you do not mention something now which you may later rely on in court. Anything you do provide in writing my be used in evidence.
Failure to respond to this letter may result in the matter being progressed by Transport for London without further notification.
If you require further information please go to; https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/prosecutions and see the Revenue Enforcement and Prosecution Policy.
Transport for London, its subsidiaries and service providers, will use your personal information for the purposes of administering enforcement activity, including prosecutions, penalty fares, responding to appeals, and fraud prevention. We may also share your personal information with London Councils, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, relevant Tran Operating Companies, Credit Reference Agencies, Debt Collection Agencies and Court appointed Bailiffs for these purposes. Your personal information will be properly safeguarded and processed in accordance with the requirements of privacy and data protection legislation. In certain circumstances, TfL may also disclose your personal information to the police and other law enforcement agencies for the purpose of prevention or detection of crime. Further information on how we use your data can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/privacy.
Case No. [Number] PLEASE COMPLETE THIS SECTION IN BLOCK CAPITALS
Last Name of person reported ____________
First Names ____________
Date of Birth ____________
UK Address ____________
Telephone Number ____________
Email Address ____________
- If you deny committing an offence, please explain why and provide any available evidence.
- If you accept committing an offence, please provide any exceptional reasons including pre-existing medical conditions that you may feel are relevant and evidence to support this, as to why TfL should not proceed with a prosecution
- If this is in relation to a ticket irregularity, then if you were unable to produce a pass because you did not have it with you or if your pass was withdrawn because you were unable to produce a valid photocard to accompany it, please enclose a photocopy of the pass/photocard with your reply.